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Remote Ready Biology Learning Activities

Remote Ready Biology Learning Activities has 50 remote-ready activities, which work for either your classroom or remote teaching.

Biology 103, 2002 Forum

Comments are posted in the order in which they are received, with earlier postings appearing first below on this page. To see the latest postings, click on "Go to last comment" below.

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Name: Paul Grobstein
Date: 2002-08-31 14:57:02
Link to this Comment: 2463

Glad you're here, looking forward to an interesting semester thinking about life, hope you are too.

This is a place for conversation, not "formal" writing but thoughts, ideas, questions as they come to mind. Your quick reactions and thoughts in progress are valuable to others as they think things through themselves. And theirs can be valuable to you as you do the same thing.

So don't worry about getting things "right". The forum is a place to talk, and help each other get things less wrong. Enjoy.

Name: Erin Myers
Date: 2002-09-04 23:45:34
Link to this Comment: 2502

I woke up early this morning with a scratchy throat. I hate that. I'm hardly allergic to anything. I have to sleep on a stack of hay for two hours before I sneeze, it takes 15 peaches or 1/2 lbs of pistacios for my throat to feel itchy, and I have to inhale nearly all the fur on a large cat before my eyes water and my nose acts up. I know hystamines cause allergic reations but I didn't know how or why so I looked it up on the Complementary Medical Association's website.
It turns out an allergy can occur anytime after the first exposure to a provocant or allergen and are much more common after a "trigger event" such as an infection (especially viral), a shock or accident, or a massive exposure to chemicals or radiation. Allergies are often inherited. If neither of your parents have allergies there is a 10-20% chance you have allergies. If just one of your parents has allergies there is a 30-50% chance you have allergies. If both parents have allergies, the chance that you do is upwards of 50-75%.
There are 4 sources of provocants or allergies, biological, chemical, physical, and stress. Biological provocants or allergens include food and drink allergies, animal and plant proteins, and infections. One can be allergic to any of the 60,000 chemicals in common use. Physical provocants or allergens include radio and microwaves; infared, visible and UV light; X-rays and atomic radiation. Stress can also cause an allergic reaction.
Allergy occurs for one of two reasons. Either the total load of provocants or allergens is too high and overwhelms the abilitis of the immune system to cope, or one particular provocant or allergen to which the body is particularly susceptible is at a dangerous level for that person.
So I figure last night the total load of provocants or allergens in my room was too high for my immune system, because I don't think there is any one provocant or allergen in the world that could have been at a high enough level in my tiny room to affect me.

Why am I taking bio?
Name: Laura Bang
Date: 2002-09-05 09:55:06
Link to this Comment: 2507

Thanks to Erin for explaining allergies! My allergies have been pretty annoying this week, and I'm almost out of my medicine, but that's okay...


To be perfectly honest, the main reason I signed up for this class was to fulfill my lab requirement. I took bio in high school, but didn't do so well in the class. I also took chem and AP chem. I liked chem, but my problem there is that I hate actually performing the experiments (I'm deathly afraid of doing something wrong and exploding the lab), but I liked observing the experiments and explaining in the write-ups what I had observed and why it happened that way. I liked finding out how the various chemicals in our world react. (Although my favorite experiments were always the ones that didn't involve any scary explosive reactions, but the ones where the reaction between various chemicals would turn them pretty colors.) So I didn't want to take chem in college because I knew I'd have to perform the experiments at some point. Physics is definitely not my thing, and geology is interesting but I didn't feel particularly thrilled at the thought of taking it. I would have loved to have taken astronomy because I love the night sky, but the math involved in astronomy is way too scary -- and besides, the wonder of the night sky (for me at least) is in its mystery, and if I took astronomy a lot of that mystery would be gone. So then I came to bio. I remembered my high school class being interesting, just not quite my style. I had Prof. Grobstein for my freshman C-Sem last year and he seemed like he would teach bio differently. And I am glad I decided to take this class.

I don't want to memorize facts that various teachers have been trying to chisel into my brain since elementary school, and I don't want to just hear the teacher talk at me about various things of little or no interest to me. The fact that this course is more discussion-oriented makes me think that this class will be all right, maybe even ... fun.

I like science in general -- I like learning about the world/universe around us. But the most fascinating thing to me is life itself. I love learning about the origin of life in general and the origin of humans, I think it is a fascinating subject. I like asking questions about the past.

I am not a person who enjoys science in depth, so don't talk to me about cells and other things that I can't see with my own eyes, but I do like learning about the things I can see. The fact that the things I can see are made up of tiny cells is amazing to me, but I find how these things go about living from day to day to be much more interesting.

Who needs sleep?
Name: Chelsea Ph
Date: 2002-09-05 09:57:39
Link to this Comment: 2508

Tuesday night I was very excited- not only was my homework done by 11, but even after a little joking around in the hall, I was lying down for a great night's sleep at the astonishingly early hour of 12 midnight. But NO, 1, 2, 3, was 5am before I fell asleep, and 10 before I woke up, effectively missing my first class. This got me thinking about sleep, so I went to WebMD and poked around for a bit. Did you guys know there is acutally a name for leg and arm spasms that happen as you are dozing off? It's called periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS) and can occur for some people hundreds of times a night every 10 to 60 seconds. Other people experience it once or twice as they are falling asleep but are able to sleep through the night. PLMS is also associated with Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) in which the person has the sensation of creeping, crawling, pulling or tingling along their legs (and sometimes arms) when they go through any prolonged period of inactivity, but is relieved (temporarily) by stretching, walking and massaging. Unfortunately, the worst times of day tend to be in the evening and at night when trying to fall asleep, so it's a huge disruption to normal sleep cycles. According to the article I read, lessening caffiene intake and applying hot or cold packs to legs and arms helps to decrease the symptoms. Ok, so that doesn't tell me why I couldn't sleep, but it was more interesting.

Wash up!
Name: Brie Farle
Date: 2002-09-05 14:57:11
Link to this Comment: 2516

Today, I watched a daytime TV show that focused on germs. Frankly, I was disgusted. The show hired doctors to go into public and private places (a grocery store, an airplane, and several homes) and take small samples everywhere possible. Things I learned include:

1. You should only flush the toilet with the lid DOWN, because spray from flushing can actually travel 20 feet away. (A doctor on the show discovered fecal matter on one woman's toothbrush)
2. 90% of people do NOT wash their hands correctly. (The correct way to wash your hands is to use soap and warm water, and carefully wash your palms, nail beds, inbetween your fingers, and tops of hands, for at least 20 seconds.)
3. Bars of Soap harbor many germs. Soap dispensers are the best bet.
4. Moisture sustains bacteria. Be aware of wet towels, sponges, dish strainers, etc.
5. E Coli Bacteria was found on the handles of grocery carts, possibly from children sitting there.
6. Be careful eating commercial fried chicken. (You may have heard the rat story, but just recently a fried whole chicken head was mixed in with a bunch of chicken wings.)

I have always been interested in biology. I think I enjoy biology because it allows me to become more aware. Although the information above is disturbing, I think it is good to know. Now, this doesn't mean that we should walk around with rubber gloves and face masks, and shun fried chicken. But, maybe we should all just practice a little extra caution.

You may never eat fries again
Name: Adrienne W
Date: 2002-09-05 17:11:38
Link to this Comment: 2519

Recently I came across an article that really scared me about my eating habits. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)has reported that many fried and baked starchy foods contain a known carcinogen called acrylamine. Some of these foods include snack chips, taco shells, breakfast cereals, and, above all, french fries. The FDA has known about the presence of this carcinogen but has failed to make any formal statements on it.
According to the CSPI, it is estimated that acrylamine causes several thousand cancer deaths each year. The EPA limit of acrylamine in water is .12 units, whereas large McDonald's fries contain 82 units. For this reason, a California attorney has formally demanded that McDonald's and Burger King place a formal cancer warning on their fries.
I, for one, am shocked because I never would have thought a happy meal could cause cancer. This simply shows the importance of science in that new research can help to prevent disease.

Affecting your body
Name: Anastasia
Date: 2002-09-05 19:08:42
Link to this Comment: 2522

You always hear that "you are what you eat," but I never actually believed it until recently. I am an athlete. I play soccer and lacrosse all year round, and if I am not doing that there is some other physical activity that I am involved in. Last weekend there was a soccer tournament that BMC attended in Maryland. We basically had to eat all of our meals out. We ate at Ruby Tuesdays, McDonalds, and Ground Rounds. Every type of food offered was something with cheese, bread, ketchup, and anything you could fry. After two days of eating like this, I, along with many of my teammates, felt physically tired and drained. It actually took a couple days to recover from eating food that my body wasn't used to. I couldn't believe that what I was eating affected me that much. I researched a few medical websites and found that doctors stressed the importance of vegetables and fruit and fueling your body with the right food. Drinking water and eating right is the most important thing to keep you functioning day to day. I guess you really are what you eat.

Name: Roma
Date: 2002-09-05 20:19:17
Link to this Comment: 2524

hi guys, it was interesting to read all your comments....i have been recently experiencing quite a bit of jet-lag: missing flights, having to stay in airport hotels and an eight hour trip from london back to philly right b4 the first day of classes have taken their toll on me....i have been having the most random sleeping patterns ever, as well as appetite fluctuations, the usual good stuff that's part and parcel of long flights..... i was doing a bit of research on that and i came up with a very interesting web-article on tips for a comfortable flight where they tell you what happens to our bodies during such flights and how we can make the best of it... here it is have fun reading! :)

What do you have ADD or something?
Name: Diana DiMu
Date: 2002-09-05 20:48:02
Link to this Comment: 2525

So it's the first week of school and already I'm restless. I know I'm not the only one, when I see other people in my classes checking their watches, tapping pencils or constantly shifting in their seats. I've joked around about having ADD but I don't actually know much about it. I recently read some information put out by the National Institute of Mental Health that answers some commonly asked questions about ADD and ADHD.

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is one of a family of related chronic neurobiological disorders. People suffering from this disorder along with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) may have an inability to concentrate or focus one's attention on one task. People with ADHD can often be easily distracted, frequently bored or even have difficulty completing routine tasks. Hyperactivity is also a frequent symptom of ADD and ADHD. When someone is hyperactive, they may not be able to sit still, talk incessantly, or do anything from tap their pencil on a desk or shake their leg during a period when they are forced to sit or pay attention. Another trait linked to ADD and ADHD is impulsivity. By impulsivity I mean that often people suffering from ADD and ADHD are unable to control their immediate desires or actions. They may blurt out whatever comes to mind without thinking about it until after it is said. Impulsive actions may also lead to lack of patience or inattention. Children with ADD or ADHD may have a harder time waiting for things they want or waiting to take their turn with others. They may be more compelled to act out by hitting or crying than children who do not suffer from ADD or ADHD.
Treatment for this condition is varied, covering everything from diet to prescription medication to behavioral therapy. More and more schools are taking this disorder more seriously by beginning to implement special education services for students with ADD and ADHD. These new programs are available for a variety of students spanning children in kindergarten up through to students in college.

Name: kathryn ba
Date: 2002-09-05 20:57:32
Link to this Comment: 2526

I was just checking out the website for this course and came across an article about and asteroid that could hit earth in 2019. The first thought that came to me the movie Armageddon, about an asteroid that barely misses hitting us. Then I freaked out and thought for a few seconds that we were all going to be in serious trouble in 17 years until I actually read the article. The odds of the asteroid, named 2002 NT7, hitting us are 1-in-200,000 (which decreases over time) hardly merits me being too concerned about being alive in 2019. This made me think about the impact that science, with the help of the media, can have on us. It is easy to gloss over a title or summary about a new scientific finding, like an asteroid, and come to some wild conclusion that is pretty far from the truth. This article reminded me not to believe what science may suggest on the surface because more often than not, what I initially think the finding implicates deserves more consideration to understand the real truth.

Name: Margaret H
Date: 2002-09-06 00:55:59
Link to this Comment: 2528

So glad to be discussing Biology with women . . .

My doctor recently cleared up years of menstrual confusion with the diagnosis of PMDD or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (a.k.a. PMS from hell). I remember a boy in high school claiming the condition is made up and there's no such thing. I beg to differ. After 4 or 5 birth control pills and continued PMS and other such menstural symptoms, the diagnosis has peaked my interest about what is going on with my hormones.

PMDD is very rare - 3%-5% of women are diagnosed as having the disorder. Things clicked for me when I realized my mood swings, depression, crankiness, tiredness, and stress levels were directly linked to ovulation. According to WedMD and the Cleveland Clinic, this is exactly the best method of diagnosis. These web resources reccommend maintaing regular eating, sleeping and excercise schedules. Stress management is also reccommended.

However, (lol, lol) suggests that PMDD may be linked to low levels of serotonin in women's bodies. The drug Sarafem is thought to regulate an imbalance of serotonin.

In Psychiatric news, the range of women with PMDD broadens between 3 - 8% and the newsletter also reports the FDA approval of a new drug, Fluoxetine. Further research indicates that PMDD could be caused by an abnormal biochemical response to normal hormonal changes. Routine changes in estrogen and progesterone associated with menses may, in vulnerable women, induce a serotonin deficiency that could trigger the symptoms of PMDD.

However, says the treatment for PMDD is similar to that for major depression: the use of antidepressants and psychotherapy. Antidepressants should be taken on an ongoing basis. Psychotherapy can help *me* cope with the symptoms and with other challenges in *my* life.

Now, explains how antidepressents can help with PMDD: Studies show some women with PMDD may benefit from treatment with antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications also are prescribed commonly for depression, but for women with PMDD they usually work more quickly and are prescribed in lower dosages to be taken for just part of each month. Also turns out the other drugs (Sarafem and Fluoxetine) are also SSRIs.

As in many medicinal fields, PMDD deserves further attention and study. Hopefully my doctor and I can find a solution that works for me. I hope this wasn't too personal for everyone.

anti-bacterial soap and speaking w/ gestures
Name: Maggie
Date: 2002-09-06 09:40:54
Link to this Comment: 2529

Hi everyone, it was interesting to read your comments/observations. Brie's recently learned lessons reminded me that this would be a good place to post my feelings about anti-bacterial soap. I admit that my only source for this is my brother, but he is a genuine science nerd (complete with the white lab coat and pocket protector) so I think he is a safe source. The type of anti-bacterial products that we use on a daily basis are usually un-warranted, and only help strengthen bacteria against the ways we do have to kill it. So all that this anti-bacterial soap, body wash, dish soap, etc does is kill bacteria when we don't really need to be worrying about it, and help build up bacteria's immune system. Kind of like how people thought penicilin was a wonder "drug" until stuff because immune to it, I guess. So if you feel the dire need to kill bacteria, use rubbing alcohol instead of buying the anti-bacterial soap.

I was reading some of the articles that are posted on the class website. I thought 'Some Language Experts Think Humans Spoke First With Gestures' was interesting. What irritated me about the people who disagreed with M.C. Corballis was that they didn't have much of an argument themselves. They discredited his theory because he wasn't a linguist, but then said in the next sentence that the field was unanswered and everyone had a theory. So what was wrong with Corballis having one too?

my two bits
Name: Paul Grobstein
Date: 2002-09-06 10:04:52
Link to this Comment: 2530

You all have the pot boiling well. Nice work. The last thing I want to do is to get in the way. Here though are a few general questions which occur to me from what's appeared so far that might be worth some discussion ...

All good science begins with the personal. And no, it can't be TOO personal. Maybe we can sort of flip back and forth between the personal and the general? what people's own experiences are and the broader issues to which they relate?

Biology = Life
Name: Diana La F
Date: 2002-09-06 13:04:42
Link to this Comment: 2531

Well, I've never really been big on science. Geology class put me to sleep, and I am still amazed that I didn't end up blowing up my school when I was in chemistry class (I did, however, find out that Hydrochloric Acid and Sodium Hydroxide do not necessarily hurt when they first come in contact with skin). This all changed when I first realized that science was pretty much pure theory, regardless of the fact that my high school teachers never taught it as such. Now, science makes me way too philisophical.

I think we look for scientific evidence in our lives because of what we were taught in high school. Science was always presented as facts, absolute truth. While many people know this isn't true the basic conviction that whatever someone in a lab says is true MUST be true is still pretty much assumed. I myself am guilty of this. I think, though, that this isn't completely false. While a cure for the common cold has not yet been found there are certain things that science has found to help prevent symptoms from getting out of hand. Most people have to admit, drinking a glass of orange juice makes you feel healthier, even if it is just psycologically. So why not go looking for "scientific" information? The very fact that it hasn't been disproven yet doesn't mean it won't work, and if it makes you feel healthier to eat chicken because becoming more vegetarian is supposedly bad for you, then eat chicken. Doesn't mean it's true, but it doesn't mean it's false.

Everyone's different. I have a friend who can eat anything she wants and stay as thin as a stick, and another friend who gains five pounds just looking at a cookie. Some things work better for some people than for others, so science will never find a complete cure for something because someone will always be pretty much immune to a pill or whatnot. As for men and women's biologies being different, it's true and false. As I said, everyone's different on some levels just as everyone's the same in others (we all have lungs, don't we?). At the same time, Men and women do differ physically. For instance, if a guy starts menstruating...he really should get that checked out.

That's all I'll say for right now, but I have one last question. I know we're supposed to want to be wrong, but is anyone else contradicting themselves before they state something, or ask a question?

Vaccines: Good and Bad
Name: Roma
Date: 2002-09-07 12:28:42
Link to this Comment: 2537

From the common chickenpox to the new and dangerous anthrax, the medical world has usually been successful in developing vaccines for the prevention and control of these diseases. We are introduced to vaccines in our infancy and this relationship usually lasts well into adulthood. Vaccines have reduced preventable infectious diseases to an all-time low and now few people experience the devastating effects of measles, pertussis and other illnesses. We usually associate the word "vaccine" to be beneficial. However it has been recently heard that the Hemophilus vaccine, a common pediatric vaccine, causes type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes. An article on this. Adverse reactions to vaccines are greatly under reported because the methods of tracking vaccine side effects are designed to only detect reactions occurring within a few weeks of immunization. Clinical trials performed before vaccines are approved for marketing generally include a small population of healthy children and follow these children less than 3 weeks for adverse reactions. These studies detect events such as fever and seizures. It is very important to learn about vaccine safety since human health and vaccines are so intertwined. Seems like every good thing in life comes with side effects.....

Philosophy of Biology
Name: Mer Stoll
Date: 2002-09-07 17:25:48
Link to this Comment: 2542

I have always been wary of science. For the past twenty years, we have been told so many contradictory stories about how to be healthy that it is understandable why so many people (like me) are not sure what to believe. Scientist always "discover" that something causes cancer or heart disease, only to realize in yet another study that they may have jumped to conclusions.

The search for knowledge is at the base of science. We all know that. But why should scientists be afraid of admitting that they do not know all the answers. I am more reassured by those people who admit that they only have the best of their knowledge to rely on, and that they could in fact be wrong.

No one ever gets everything completely "right," and science is the most fallible of all. By trying to come to a conclusion that summarizes the observations which have been seen, scientists really try to fit the laws of nature into words which we can understand, rather than trying to phrase our words to fit nature's rules. While many people might think that these two actions are one and the same, the real difference is that scientists now assume that they can completely understand everything given their "laws" of today. That assumption is erroneous.

As proven in the world of physics and the example of the expansion of the galaxy, it is erroneous to assume that all "laws" are steadfast. Science would have a greater following among those of us who are "not science" people if man's fallibility were admitted and embraced.

scientific definitions
Name: stephanie
Date: 2002-09-08 09:13:50
Link to this Comment: 2543

While reading through Chapter One of our Biology book, I came across a sentence that struck me as, well, noteworthy. In a paragraph about "Emergent Properties," was the line:

And an organism is a living whole greater than the sum of its parts.

This was sort of a concept that I hadn't really gone into great depth thinking about until it coincided perfectly with a CSEM discussion later in the week. While talking about the evolution of the world and its species, we constructed a timeline of major (r)evolutionary events. The earth, as believed by a majority of scientists, is around 4.65 billion years old. The first evidence of bacteria dates back to around 3.5 billion years; the first plants around 1 billion and the first insects around 400 million. However, the first evidence of human-like characteristics (bid-pedal, opposable thumb, etc.) did not occur until around 100,000 years ago. In perspective, while the evolution of a single-celled organism took more than a billion years (!), humans have evolved in the past one-hundred-thousand--1/10,000th of the time. From an even greater mind-boggling standpoint, the past century has seen the advancement of human technology snowball at an astonishing rate. A hundred years ago, the automobile was still being perfected, child labor laws were only just beginning their movement, and Einstein hadn't even begun his theory of relativity.

The point is, a LOT has happened in such a short amount of time. Technologically, we have advanced as a people in unthinkable ways and at unthinkable rates. When I think back to the statement about an organism being "greater than the sum of its parts" I realize that it is so true. Humans are a perfect example. By definition, humans could in fact be a mere list of body parts, organs and cells but are more than those things singly. At the beginning of our CSEM class that day, we were asked to answer the question, "Who are you?" and my instructor noted, after everyone had read their answer, that never in the many years he has asked that question has anyone ever responded with something having to do with the actual chemical make-up of a human. More than by what we are made-up of, the label of Human or any being for that matter, encompasses more than just parts. We are defined not only by our biological make-up but also by what we do, achieve and how we live.

In this same way, science in general encompasses not just the "mundane facts" but the way those facts and terms combine to work from/with each other in an astonishing and extremely creative ways. The true definition of an organism (and more broadly, science) is reliant on the amazing interaction of its "parts".

Fast Food
Name: Laura
Date: 2002-09-08 10:32:16
Link to this Comment: 2544

I noticed someone was talking about the disgusting habits which some fast food places aquire and it reminded me of this book my roomate was reading last year called "Fast Food Nation", one which goes thoroughly into the deplorable and sickening ways in which McDonald's, Burger King, and even my all-time favorite fast food place, Del Taco (how you east-coasterners live without a Del Taco is completely beyond me) cook their food. You might be interested in taking a look at it.

I signed up for the class because, frankly, I need to get my lab out of the way before JYA next year and my friend Chelsea said that she was already enrolled. So I figured, if I'm going to go through hell (my picture of hell is one in which I'm stuck doing science and math forever, with voices yelling stuff like, "You suck! You'll never be able to do any of this!"), I might as well go through it with a friend. I was actually surprised in the first week of classes - maybe it won't be as bad as I thought!

I personally am interested in breast cancer. My grandmother was diagnosed last year and though she's doing well, I simply don't know anything about it and that doesn't make me feel good. I'd like to go into the causes of breast cancer, why it happens, who is more likely to get it and why, how it works, et cetera...

Okay, I'm done. Happy Sunday, everyone!

Name: Chelsea
Date: 2002-09-08 11:21:28
Link to this Comment: 2546

Hey guys! I was doing the reading for monday, and I was just wondering...did anyone else notice that in chapter 25 it says that leopards lay eggs? The chart on 497 says that leopards share the characteristic of an Amniotic, or shelled, egg with the turtle. Ok, so first I thought that maybe I was reading it wrong, so I looked up the definition of amniotic egg: (and I quote) "a shelled, water-retaining egg that enables reptiles, birds and EGG-LAYING MAMMALS to complete their life-cycles on dry land." I said to myself, correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't I always been taught that one criteria for a mammal is a LIVE birth? However, as science is generally, in my experience, dumbed-down to the level of a 2-year-old in high school, perhaps it was all a lie. So, I looked up the characteristics of mammals according to this book. Lo and behold, on pg 702-705, there IS an exception to the "rule"- the order Monotremata, which includes Platypuses and echidnas, lays eggs and has no nipples and is found in Australia and New Guinea. HOWEVER, if you will notice...the Leopard is not included in this order- so why oh why did the book say they laid eggs? Someone, anyone, please explain this to me- I can't find a website, news journal or anything else to explain the logic behind that statement :(

leopards, eggs, and textbooks
Name: Paul Grobstein
Date: 2002-09-08 12:17:59
Link to this Comment: 2547

Yep, p 497 is confusing/misleading. That page, and definition, notwithstanding, it ain't the SHELL that defines an "amniotic" egg but rather a surrounding membrane, the amnion (hence "amniotic" egg). See p 693 in textbook (Chapter 34, Amniotes, in sixth edition). Yep, some mammals do have SHELLED amniotic eggs. But not leopards.

Maybe even textbooks sometimes get it wrong? And so we ... ? Nice work. Want to write the authors?

Name: Chelsea
Date: 2002-09-08 12:42:47
Link to this Comment: 2548

Yay!! I'm not crazy, it wasn't all a lie! Thank you! I was wondering if they meant something else...something to do with amniotic fluid and why it's amniocentesis... Yes, I think it's important for someone to tell the authors that leopards don't lay eggs, that could cause some problems.

Science and Creativity
Name: Lydia
Date: 2002-09-08 12:45:37
Link to this Comment: 2549

I have never thought of science in terms of being a highly charged and creative subject, as young students we are always taught to follow a specific equation in order to reach a final answer (which was always the final answer). However after this weeks discussion it would be hard to deny that science is one of the most creative outlets there is. It is too bad that those studing the humanities seem to have such great disdain towards the sciences and vice versa, as these two subjects are invaribly intertwined. A larger question though is how can one use science to explain creativity, can we use science to discover what motivates a person to strum out a tune on their guitar or dabble on a canvas? In other words, how can science be used to explain how one percieves the world and how does one begin to place abstract emotions into words and motion? How can science begin to describe how people have different ways of viewing life and different inclinations towards various things?

Name: Katie
Date: 2002-09-08 13:03:37
Link to this Comment: 2550

So now as my humanities driven mind is prompted to think of life as related to science and, in particular, biology, pretty random things have crossed my mind. Last night I began to think of the human sense of touch. Biologically I would assume (though I have not quited learned the mechanics) sense of touch has a defined sequence involving the physical act of touch, the transmission of this action through the nervous system and finally to the brain that makes some sense of that sensation. My inquiry lies however in what specifics change what exactly is felt by different touches. For example, why is it that the grasp of one persons hand does not relay the same pleasure as taking the hand of a small child or the comfort of holding the hand of someone you love. It seems to me that in combination with the chemicals produced by the brain (endorphins, seritonin, whatever...) the "regular" sense of touch is enhanced to give those separate and different feelings that come with touch from different people. For me as someone who thinks in emotions and acts based on feelings it's interesting to think that there is a scientific rhyme or reason behind these things. It's like the new study of chaos science, attmepting to define the unexplainable and understand it. I never really considered that there is a process in which we develop certain feelings, etc. That's all I'm really contemplating at the moment...

Human error
Name: Sarah Tan
Date: 2002-09-08 14:42:02
Link to this Comment: 2552

I was reading the NY Times for a post inspiration, and sure enough, I found this gem of an article. This is a classic example of scientists finding evidence for certain theories solely becaus they're looking for it specifically. In this case, this lepidopterist, Kettlewell, went searching for results supporting natural selection and found them not because they were there but because he wanted them to be there, and "there are subtle ways to seduce yourself."

We've already discussed that the scientific information we have toniday cannot be taken as "truth," but the reason for that has largely been the lack of knowledge and continued discoveries in the field. I don't recall anyone mentioning that scientists themselves can be to blame for at least some of the inaccuracies because the observations they make and the experiments they perform to test the observations are all still based on unavoidable personal bias.

Even science nerds have to deal with internal politics. Status and reputations are at stake, funding depends on previous research, and critics and enemies can break a career for personal gain or just for sport. Not to make this sound excessively like a soap opera, but the point is that since scientists are human, they will inevitable make mistakes, and the data collected and analyzed by them will not and cannot be completely accurate, especially in a more subjective field like biology, which has less do to with math and formulas than other areas of science.

Name: Jodie
Date: 2002-09-08 20:05:04
Link to this Comment: 2556

Laura's posting mentioning Fast Food Nation reminded me of something in the book (which is a wonderful read, by the way, and comes highly recommended) about factories that produce flavor. They have all these scientists working with different chemicals to produce flavor--natural and artificial. Both are produced at the flavor factories--most of which are found in New Jersey. I actually can't find any of the information online right now, but i will follow this up when i get my copy of fast food nation--my mom should be sending it to me. But it's really interesting that a lot of the flavors we completely ignore are chemical compounds that scientists just threw together. Well they threw them together scientifically but still. There was a lawsuit a few years ago against McDonalds for not having vegetarian fries (yeah, that's right). A woman had written in, I think in Florida, asking whether the fries were vegetarian. She was assured that they were, but guess what? There is beef tallow in them and also the artificial or natural flavor in them is made with beef. So really vegetarians and vegans can never be careful enough when eating processed food.
Here are some definitions...
The exact definition of natural flavorings & flavors from Title 21, Section 101, part 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations is as follows:

"The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional."

In other words, natural flavors can be pretty much anything approved for use in food.

(a)(1) The term artificial flavor or artificial flavoring means any substance, the function of which is to impart flavor, which is not derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof. (

it's forum time
Name: Heather Pr
Date: 2002-09-08 20:23:39
Link to this Comment: 2557

I couldn't really think of a topic, so I started thinking about class on Friday, and the question of how we distinguish living things from inanimate objects. At first, I jumped to the usual conclusion that it's because the living thing thing moves. But then again, not all living things can be seen moving with the naked eye (honestly, have you ever watched a tree move on its own?) and plus there are many things that are inanimate that seem to move on their own.

So I've come to the conclusion that it could possibly be defined not simply by movement, but more by reaction. Every living thing reacts to stimulus of somesort. If you knock over a tree it will either die or keep growing as is. It has some sort of response. When you ask a prof a question, he responds. The desk does not. That's one of the main ways we distinguish between livning and non-living things.

Science and Creativity 2
Name: Tegan Geor
Date: 2002-09-08 22:28:07
Link to this Comment: 2559

Pardon me if this seems a bit of an unrelated tangent, but reading Lydia's message about science and creativity reminded me of a play I'd read once, Picasso at the Lapine Agile, by Steve Martin.

The play is set up like the premise of a bad joke: Picasso and Einstein wind up in a bar in Paris in 1904. They have a bit of an on-going arguement about whose contributions to the world are more important, that of the artist or that of the scientist. It's a rather funny play, I highly recommend it: but in the interest of only taking up as much of your time, my fellow students, as vaguely relates to the topic at hand, I'd like to just post a small bit of the dialogue. I think it relates to the question of science and art's realtions to one another, and to the creative process, which in my opinion is what binds them together.

Picasso (P from here on out): ...And what the hell do know about it anyway? You're a scientist! You just want theories...
Einstein (E):Yes, and like you, the theories must be beautiful. You know why the sun doesn't revolve around the earth? Because it isn't beautiful enough. If you're trying to prove that the sun revolves around the earth, in order to make the theory fit the facts, you have to have the planets moving backwards, and the sun doing loop-the-loops. Too ugly. Way too ugly.
P: So you're saying you bring a beautiful idea into being?
E: Yes. We create a system and then check to see if our observations fit it..
P: So you're not just describing the world as it is?
E: No! We are creating a new way of looking at the world!

And by the end of the play, the two realize that their respective fields are closely enough related and relavent to the other that they can call each other brother.

So I posted this mostly because I really like this play, and reference it whenever I've got even a marginal excuse to do so, I think, but also because I think that drive to find a new and better way of looking at the world is the essence of science. And Lydia, as far as your question about whether or not science can be used to explain creativity, I offer the notion that it is actually a creative drive that explains science: with a guitar, you create an ordered series of notes in some sort of harmonious arrangement. Painting, you create an ordered image on a canvas when there was none before. And in science, we create systems to bring order to the world as we observe it. Those observations are ever increasing and changing; and since we do them as individuals, no two people's perceptions are ever exactly alike, we all have something to contribute. Science and scientists must always be striving to create the next best system, the next best summary of all observations, just as it is said that a writer must write, a dancer must dance. What causes one woman to create in a symphony and another to create in a laboratory, and why these urges are stronger in some people and not in others would be an interesting scientific study: I am personally inclined, through my observation, to just add the 'creative urge' to the list of qualities possessed inherently by human beings, and differences in strength and ethod of expression of creativity to the vastly different experiences people have from one another. Goodness, that was really long. Sorry about that.

What is Life?
Name: Christine
Date: 2002-09-08 23:18:58
Link to this Comment: 2561

What is life? Easy question, but a difficult one to answer. I searched the web for an answer and encountered different definitions, some more scientific than others. One of the more scientific ones I came across included seven characteristics of life that distinguish biological entities from non-living things:

1. Organisms tend to be complex and highly organized. Chemicals found within their bodies are synthesized through metabolic processes into structures that have defined purposes.
2. Living things have the ability to take energy from their environment and change it from one form to another. This energy is usually used to facilitate their growth and reproduction.
3. Organisms regulate their bodies and other internal structures to certain normal parameters.
4. Living creatures respond to stimuli. Cues in their environment cause them to react through behavior, metabolism, and physiological change.
5. Living things reproduce themselves by making copies of themselves.
6. Organisms tend to grow and develop. Growth involves the conversion of consumed materials into biomass, new individuals, and waste.
7. Life adapts and evolves in step with external changes in the environment through mutation and natural selection.

Almost all of the definitions just examined material components and the interactions that can be analyzed with physical means, but can life be described in such strictly scientific terms? No definition touched the subject of consciousness and none examined life as a force. Can there be more than one definition of life?

Name: Annie Sull
Date: 2002-09-08 23:20:08
Link to this Comment: 2562

I am definitely a slave to caffeine—I thrive on pop and coffee. Despite my efforts to decrease my intake, I still crave caffeinated beverages. I actually hadn't even considered caffeine a drug until one of my friends in high school had a caffeine overdose (fortunately, she recovered soon after). But I honestly didn't even know that was possible! Then later, when I tried to reduce my own caffeine intake, I noticed drowsiness and headaches, etc. Although I don't think any of us would classify caffeine with drugs like nicotine, marijuana, and heroin, it is indeed true that this drug poses a danger to the heavy user.
Many people tend to first think of the many benefits of caffeine consumption (to which most sleep deprived college students can attest). Most of us enjoy the rush of energy, increased clarity and concentration, and the more rapid stream of thoughts and ideas which caffeine causes. How wonderful that there exists a socially accepted drug that can provide these benefits!
But I recently began reading up on this drug, discovering just how it influences the nervous system. What I found is that caffeine affects each person differently (a lot has to do with an individual's tolerance) and that it is relatively harmless when consumed in small doses. For those of us that are coffee addicts, however, more attention should be paid to the consequences of high usage. Caffeine first stimulates the upper portion of the CNS, but as dosage increases, it begins to move down the spinal cord. High dosage causes insomnia, anxiety, trembling, flashes of light and even small fevers and delirium. Surprisingly, several studies have shown that caffeinism (that is the actual term) causes symptoms that are often confused with those of psychosis! This presents the problem of misdiagnosis and the psychiatric community now ponders the possibility that high caffeine consumption stimulates psychosis. The after effects of caffeine include depression, fatigue, and agitation.
Another interesting fact is that a disorder called Restless Legs syndrome—a state related to anxiety and depression—is caused chiefly by caffeine. When this drug stimulates the nervous system, it produces bouts of nervousness, panic, insomnia, and uncontrolled shaking and movement in the legs—symptoms which are particularly severe during the night.
That most people hardly consider caffeine a "drug" allows for such uncontrolled usage (and I am no one to preach!) Another problem is that the consumption of caffeine, particularly coffee, has become such a social practice. The huge increase of coffee houses and of delicious specialty drinks has made coffee drinking a habitual and social ritual. Students, working adults, even children now include that trip to starbucks as an integral part of their day. And then, as it goes with any other drug, our tolerance rises and the addiction worsens.
In reality, I don't really know where this exploration has taken me—I will still consume my '"x" cups of coffee each day.... I guess it's just important that we start to view caffeine for what it really is and realize that we are actually altering our physiology with each cup of coffee.

Source of discussion:

Name: Chelsea
Date: 2002-09-09 00:02:12
Link to this Comment: 2564

Hi everyone

I've noticed that a bunch of you were talking about issues related to health. So, I thought I'd comment on a related issue that I have something of a vested interest in -- vegetarianism and veganism. I'm currently a vegan and I was raised as a vegetarian (three cheers for being the child of ex-hippies!). Although a lot of the reasons I eat the way I do have to do w/ morality issues (a thought: just because we're biologically capable of doing something, such as eating meat, does that mean we should?), I also feel that it can be a healthier diet (can be ... um, if you eat nothing but potato chips it will probably be a bad idea ... just as eating meat can be made healthier or less healthy depending on the specifics of what you're actually doing). Anyway, I guess I'm also something of a living response to people who wonder if it's OK to raise children as vegetarians (*waves* I'm here, I'm 18, and I'm, knock on wood, doing well). I'm also likely to raise my children vegetarian (quite possibly vegan) so I tend to be interested in issues related to how best to do so, etc. Now, I'm reading this over and worrying that it somehow sounds preachy (not the intention) ... if it does, I apologize. Also, here's a website with more information if anyone is interested:
Take care!

life elsewhere
Name: Will
Date: 2002-09-09 03:15:45
Link to this Comment: 2565

I've been thinking about the tangent we took in class on Friday about the possibility of life on Mars or Europa. Prof. Grobstein asked us, "Wouldn't it be significant if there was life other than on Earth?" and we all avoided eye contact or shrugged or gave a whisper of consent. Later on, however, I was thinking more seriously about it. I've always been interested in astronomy and space exploration - I was a token 12 year-old who wanted to be an astronaut. Thinking a little more critically I began to wonder what impact extraterrestrial life would have on me, personally. I'm talking microorganisms, or even a sign of extinct organisms on Mars or Europa. What benefits does it bring our society? Scientists could study the way life came to be in those environments, and perhaps answer some of the questions we have about how life came to be on Earth. Perhaps there would be new extreme environments that life adapted to that were never present on Earth. There are others, but one reason I'm not a scientist is because I can't come up with them. But all of this knowledge gained from such research remains in the scientific world. It'll be published, and maybe Campbell's 10th edition would be even more complete, but only eager science students such as ourselves would learn about it. The average Joe/Jane could continue on with his/her life not losing anything for not knowing the newest type of extremophile. Perhaps I'm cynical about this right now beacuse it's late. I actually do love biology, but in the context that Prof. Grobstein brought up earlier - I care about it in the way that it affects me, even in detail. The endless lists of types of bacteria and protists and how the reproduce bores the hell out of me becuase I never feel the need to know how the millions of things inside my mouth are reproducing. However, I love to be able to walk around knowing why the trees are turning, look at my feet and know what's happening inside my brain and body that's moving them, and even how life originated. I don't think it's important to know those things, but I think that it makes my life a lot more enjoyable for some weird, twisted, nerdy reason. So is the life of a Haverford student.

Name: Anastasia
Date: 2002-09-09 22:40:10
Link to this Comment: 2578

At times life can be so easy. Everything just seems to fall into place. The things that you hope will work out, somehow do, and things that you never thought possible develop in front of your very eyes. You can go to school all day to come home with little to no work to do, decide since you have all this free time that you will go to the mall with your best friend, find the perfect skirt in your favorite store and find out when you are standing at the register ready to dish out $75 that it has just been marked down to $9.99. After a couple of these miracles, you decide that you are all shopped out. When you get home, as you enter the kitchen you find that mom has just cooked eggplant rolatinni, which happens to be your favorite food. It is amazing to think that you could run into frustrations after a day like that. Well it happens. It seems that sometimes no matter what you do, everything goes wrong. Sometimes there is always a problem that can't be solved easily. How can life throw you such curve balls and yet be so easy at times? I wonder, when thinking about life and what it means to be alive, if we will ever really know all the answers? Does life really throw you curve balls, or do you just make it harder on yourself by trying to be happy all the time? When things don't fall into place, why is it so hard for us to accept the turn out? Should we get frustrated or just go on like nothing happened? It seems to me that maybe human beings are extremely stubborn and when something seems to go wrong we need to fight against it instead of just trying to see the positive side of this curve ball. Through all this, I ask you to ask yourself a simple question, "Would I be better off if I didn't care as much?" Would you be happier if you accepted everything the way it was or is it necessary for us as individuals to get frustrated at times in order to be happy?

Name: Wil Frankl
Date: 2002-09-11 12:21:12
Link to this Comment: 2610

I do not feel comfortable with the assertion that "science equals life". Yes, in many interesting and curious ways they are similar. However, in one extremely significant way, they do not – unless...well, first hear me out. Science is a process that is most commonly understood to be carried out by humans. Thus, making the assertion that life is science, leads me to the uncomfortable conclusion that life is carried out by "Someone". Is there "Someone" or "Something" making more and more inclusive summaries about life? The evolution of science is witnessed by humans. Is the evolution of life witnessed by ....? Does a falling tree make a sound in the woods if there is no one around to hear it? Do animals "do" science? Do plants "do" science? They certainly are alive, so maybe life is science. All of this notwithstanding, I still feel uncomfortable in my reluctant atheism.

vegan diet
Name: Annie Sull
Date: 2002-09-11 21:50:04
Link to this Comment: 2634

I have always viewed my older sister as a model for good health and nutrition (essentially, she's a health nut!) She exercises religiously and has been on the vegan diet for the last three years. Although I admire her discipline, I have never truly understood all the logistics of this diet: the reasons for adopting this lifestyle, benefits, drawbacks, things to watch out for, etc. Recently, I have been reading more about food and nutrition and I have since learned a great deal about the diet by which my sister lives.
It seems that most people who become vegans (because the majority does not assume this diet at birth) do so primarily for health reasons. Without question, the vegan diet provides enormous benefits to a person's physical, and to some extent, psychological well-being. Among the advantages unanimously reported are improved sleeping habits/patterns (and less sleep needed), higher energy levels, enhanced complexion, decreased appetite, better immune system, low body fat, increased lifespan, and stronger resistance to serious diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Vegans tend to agree that human beings are designed to thrive under this diet—that it is more natural than a diet which includes animal products. [Source used: ]
Yet there are drawbacks to this diet. It is potentially dangerous when not administered correctly—a person should be educated about veganism before adopting the lifestyle. Because this diet cuts out a large range of foods, it is important that she substitute the nutrients not provided by her diet. Many researchers argue that vegans do not get enough vitamin B12, for example (since plant foods hardly contain this vitamin). A supplement is therefore necessary. Also, many vegans should make en effort to include fat in their diets (since typical vegan foods usually do not contain appreciable amounts of fat). Some studies, in addition, show that this diet can be harmful for those who require larger amounts of nutrients such as pregnant women and teenagers. In short, this diet is clearly positive in most respects, but it does require a conscious effort to maintain good health.

Name: Chelsea
Date: 2002-09-11 22:57:05
Link to this Comment: 2637

I've been thinking of my topic for the first web paper, which will be something along the lines of "Evolution of Human Pregnancy". If you think about it, in relation to other mammals and taking into account that humans did not always have hospitals, midwives, sterilization and (at least to the best of my knowledge) were nomadic for quite a few million years, our pregnancy and birth cycles make absolutely no sense!! Why in the world would humans evolve to have a birth lasting 24, 48 or more hours? Under circumstances realistic to those surrounding early humans, natural selection would have gotten rid of those individuals, so are humans DE-volving? Has all our "advancement" to build cities, invent modes of transportation, and generally take ourselves OUT of nature increased the time it takes for human females to give birth? Speaking as one, that SUCKS!!! Seriously, guys...

Ok, sorry I ranted. Also wanted to comment on Chapter 34 in the book, specifically the assertion that Gorillas are herbivores. This is not entirely accurate of either gorillas, or indeed any primate. Most primates also have insects, frogs or other small animals in their diet. Also, an interesting note on Gorillas, studying male behavior has revealed a disturbing trend toward infanticide. While sometimes this appears to be because a new group of males has taken control of the group, it also happens in groups in which the leaders have been established for some time, many times with reasons unknown to those observing. Perhaps most disturbing is the practice of playing with and torturing the infant before actually killing and devouring it. In contrast, Bonobos release there violent aggression through sexual stimulation, regardless of age, sex, or heirarchy.

Human Pregnancy
Name: Elizabeth
Date: 2002-09-12 14:18:56
Link to this Comment: 2642

Chelsea really got me thinking about the inconvenience of human pregnancy and birth...I guess I'd always just accepted the process and never thought twice about what birth was like for those who lived a long time ago. As "developments" in hospital births came along, humans probably became less concerned with delivering their own babies, neglecting to pass on knowledge of the birth process to younger generations, save for doctors, nurses and midwives.

Name: Amanda Mac
Date: 2002-09-12 15:42:24
Link to this Comment: 2644

After staying up late last night, I wearily skipped my nightly routine and crawled into bed. You would figure that because I was so tired a good night's rest would immediately follow, but after lying in bed for about an hour with terribly puffy eyes and very incoherent thoughts I was still awake. Frustrated, I decided to get up and make the cup of tea that I had skipped out on earlier. Finally, the warmth of the lemongrass soothed my stomach and put my body to rest. I got to bed late, but did receive the normal sleep that I usually obtain after drinking my nightly tea.
After pondering over this event, I began to wonder if the lemongrass in my tea permitted my body to relax and even induce sleepiness. So, I went over to my "Healing Plants" book and looked up lemongrass. I discovered that lemongrass is best known for its sedative and analgesic qualities. It is a plant found throughout Mexico and around the U.S. border. The tea itself may be applied to skin to treat acne and athlete's foot or it can be orally taken to help with diarrhea, fevers and the flu. Over time, if a pregnant woman drinks the tea, it may be helpful in reducing mutations during the formation of human embryos. So, if you are having trouble sleeping just boil some water, drop in some lemon grass (I normally put some mint in too, it's goooood) and let it steep for ten minutes. It helps enormously and provides many remedies for everyday bodily inconsistancies.

Name: kathryn ba
Date: 2002-09-12 18:54:35
Link to this Comment: 2647

Amanda's comment about the usefulness of lemongrass got me thinking about herbal remedies in general, specifically the trend toward "natural" treatments versus opting for traditional medical treatments. Growing up with a doctor in the family, I was always taught that herbal remedies, excuse my language, are a bunch of crap and are being used to the detriment of the "ignorant" people who ignore sound medical practice. For whatever reason, I slowly became interested in herbal remedies and began to question if herbs really do cure medical problems. After coming from the extreme anti-herbal side and eventually going to the opposite extreme, I now find myself in the middle. I have a hard time accepting some claims that a particular herb will reduce aging, enlarge your breasts, or some other far-fetched claim. However, I agree with Amanda that some herbs, like lemongrass, do provide relief of some kind. I worry that other people will buy into the craze of "natural" treatments that promise to cure all ills without thinking everything through, and might end up avoiding going to the doctor's office in favor of trusting the label on a small plastic bottle of herbs.

Name: Diana DiMu
Date: 2002-09-12 21:30:50
Link to this Comment: 2650

At Bryn Mawr plenty of kids get so busy during the course of the year that the priority of a "good night's sleep" quickly falls to the bottom of one's priority list. Not everyone needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, some people do well with less, while others need more. However, for those of you out there that actually want to get some sleep but find that you just can't, you may be suffering from some form of insomnia. Stress and anxiety can both factor into why you may be having trouble sleeping. Maybe it's just back to school jitters, but if you're not sure, here are a few suggestions of things that may help you get a better night's rest:

1. Try to cut back on taking naps. They may disrupt your sleeping pattern at night.
2. If you find you are having an especially hard time falling asleep, try going to bed the same time every night to establish a pattern of sleep.
3. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol late in the day. While caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, alcohol may also cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.
4. Regular exercise promotes good sleep, however, don't exercise at least 3 hours before going to sleep because it may stimulate your body and make it hard to fall asleep.
5. Don't eat heavy meals too late in the day. (I guess ordering food at 1AM isn't such a good idea.)
6. Try to follow a routine to help you wind down at the end of the day. Listen to music, read a book or take a shower.
7. If you find you are worrying too much about what you have to do the next day, then make yourself a "to do" list. This might actually help relax and let go of some of your worries for the time being.
If you think your problem is more serious there are many internet sites to read more about insomnia and whether you should consult a doctor.
One website is the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research:
or the National Sleep Foundation :

sleeping and eating
Name: melissa
Date: 2002-09-12 23:40:21
Link to this Comment: 2651

I think that Diana's comment are really suitable for the time of year. At school we do not really think about proper sleep or proper eating habits.
What exactly is enough sleep? How do we know that we are getting enough sleep?
Does eating properly mean that we must eat all food groups at every meal? Or are we allowed to skip a few food groups during the day?
I think that some of these questions should be addressed and the information displayed so it makes encourages me to go to sleep although I have a paper to write or to eat anything green and leafy which I hate.

Name: Margaret B
Date: 2002-09-13 00:27:36
Link to this Comment: 2652

I have saved a particular edition of the science section of the NYTimes from over the summer. It's an entire section dealing with women and pain. The article documents how women are undertreated for pain in the United States. One study accessed hospital records from a few years back and checked the amount/frequency of pain killers administered after routine appendectomys for both male and female patients. Compared to the levels men got, women recieved FAR less medicine to aid them in their post surgery pain. Granted this is one study, there have been several of this nature. These studies reflect a new surge in the study of medicinal malpractice.

Across the nation, doctors (particularly women doctors) and female patients are realizing that the pain of women is underrated, underdiagnosed, and undertreated. The real upset is that women are usually more upfront and specific about their pain. Studies and interviews suggest doctors don't take women's complaints seriously, or they feel women over exagerate the level of pain they have, or women are over-emotional and even have psychological issues instead of physical ones.

The only good thing about this article, is that it suggests that the country is recgonizing the bias in treating women's pain. Other than that, I find it very upsetting.


herbal remedies
Name: Adrienne W
Date: 2002-09-13 00:35:16
Link to this Comment: 2653

I would like to add a little more to Amanda and Kathryn's discussion on herbs. I have been known to look to natural cures for ailments, such as the herb Echinacea to treat a cold. In my personal experience, I have found that herbal remedies work. However, there is a danger in them that many people are unaware of: they can sometimes cause serious drug interactions when taken with other medication. I recently read that Echinacea can cause blood clots when taken with oral contraceptives. My mother found that an herb she was taking, KavaKava could cause serious health problems when combined with a medication she was taking. I feel that, since the herbal medication industry has grown, there should be more research done on side effects and drug interactions. I also feel that there should be more MDs and pharmacists with homeopathic knowledge if this industry continues to grow. If we treat these cures like actual medication the medical community and the FDA should treat it just as seriously.

Re: Science=Life
Name: Tegan Geor
Date: 2002-09-13 02:33:23
Link to this Comment: 2654

Will (and everyone else, I guess): You posted an interesting series of comments that have had me thinking for a while now. After reading your comments, and being for the most part agnostic myself, I too became sort of uncomfortable with our collective equating of science to life, if that in some way necessitated a grand Someone to be summarizing the observations. I've decided not to give up on our definition, though. Here's how I'm reconciling it: perhaps my thoughts will be of some use to you.

Science is a process of inductive reasoning: through the learning of particulars, people make generalizations about what is going on in the world, and continually gather new information, to test and affirm their inductions. Every creature with any sort of capacity to think does this: those that don't think in a traditional sense still operate on the same sort of inductive plane (i.e., plants sensing a source of light and growing in that direction), in a way gathering through observation the knowledge necessary to live. If all life does demonstrate--as it seems to me that it does--this capacity for inductive reasoning, then I am fine with the assertion that life is science.

Also, just because there are observations and summaries to be made doesn't mean that anyone is making them: the evolution of science may be being witnessed by humans, but were all the records to suddenly be erased, science would continue. And it wouldn't mean that science hadn't gone on before, that the observations hadn't been made. Science is not an operation carried out by one singular human race but more of a unifying method of reasoning common to all individuals. It doesn't follow from the definition of science as life that life is being carried out by one Someone: the model doesn't require Someone because science is carried out through a multitude of someones.

Name: Erin Myers
Date: 2002-09-13 13:46:22
Link to this Comment: 2660

I remember learning that viruses aren't alive, but we didn't discuss why. We established in class that there are six properties of living organisms:
* highly improbable assembly
* bounded
* energy dependent
* semi-homeostatic
* semi-autonomous
* reproduces with variation

Viruses are obviously highly improbable assemblies of DNA and a protein coating. They are bounded and reproduce with variation. But to reproduce viruses must use another organism, injecting their DNA or RNA into a host cell. The virus DNA/RNA is replicated and new viruses are formed. Evenually the host cell bursts and the new viruses are released to reproduce. Because viruses can change and adapt, some consider them semi-homeostatic and semi-autonomous. Viruses are only dependent on host cells energy to reproduce.
The means by which viruses reproduce separate viruses from living organisms. Living organisms depend on energy to live not just to repruduce. Living organisms can reproduce by themselves or within their species.

Is the Sun ... alive?
Name: Laura Bang
Date: 2002-09-13 15:14:51
Link to this Comment: 2662

I found a very interesting article that argued that the Sun is a living organism, and also sort of deified the Sun. (Okay, the article is from 1975, but it's still a really interesting argument; or maybe I just don't know enough about what modern science says about the Sun...)

Anyway, I didn't really follow too much of what the guy was saying about the Sun being alive because it was a rather complicated argument. But part of the argument was that the Sun breathes. What?!? Well, according to the article, the sun has a bunch of pores on its surface that emit gases, and this is sort of like humans sweating. Also, the article mentioned that like humans breathe the air of our Earth, the Sun breathes the gases of its own Milky Way galaxy and uses the gases in its own chemical reactions etc. I'm not doing a very good job of explaining this part of it, so I suggest you read the article instead. :-)

The other part of the article, in which the author argued that the Sun is a kind of deity, was much more interesting. The article states that on earth all elements remain what they are: carbon stays carbon, hydrogen stays hydrogen, etc. The elements all have the potential to be part of many different things (eg: a table, a pillow, butter, ...) but they remain individual elements making up part of a whole. On the Sun, however, the elements have the ability to change: carbon can change into oxygen can change into nitrogen, etc. And therefore the Sun contains all possibilities, which is more or less the human conception of God. And, "... while the world of Nature contains Man's time and the world of Earth his recurrence, the Solar World must represent the sixth dimension for him, that is, the Sun contains all possibilities for man. ... Go out and stare at the sun in the sky." (Personally, I don't recommend actually doing this.) "Why are you blinded? Why are you unable to define or describe what you see? Why is the impression incomparable with anything else you know? It is because you are looking through a hole in our three-dimensional scenery, out into the six-dimensional world."

It may not be true, but it's still something to think about...

Here's the link to the article: The Physical Being of the Sun from The Theory of Celestial Influence by Rodney Collin

I just read most of the first part (called "The Physical Being of the Sun") and the last part (called "Possibilities in the Sun") and skipped the part in the middle (called "Hydrogen into Light"). The last part is the most interesting (and the shortest). :-)

Name: Catherine
Date: 2002-09-13 21:05:02
Link to this Comment: 2668

During class today, I realized how "un-curious" I was about life outside of my own small bubble. Now, I have been forced to think about how trivial my life is in comparison to the huge picture. I wonder whether mankind will ever explore all of space, and whether we will always even want to. We have not come very far, it seems. And who knows how many more questions will arise with each answer we discover?

second posting
Name: Diana La F
Date: 2002-09-14 02:17:11
Link to this Comment: 2676

Well, I want to write about two points that have been brought up on this forum so far.

First off, sleep. I know most college students don't think about getting a good night sleep, or at least that's a stigma. I do, however, know many people who are very aware of their sleep patterns. I have one friend who gets 8 hours of sleep every night, regardless of how much work she has left. Yes, she does the occasional all nighter, but it's not a common occurance with her, and she's healthier for it. She's the person who, during midterms and finals, you want to smack because she has so much energy. I myself know my own limits. I can't go too long with bad sleep patterns because I have Epstein Barr. I don't know how to explain how I know how much sleep I need, but I do. When I feel myself start to get run down the first thing I do is change my diet and make sure I get enough sleep. If I don't, I basically get a bad bout of mono. So people can get enough sleep if they just listen to their bodies.

The second thing I wanted to comment on was being interested in life outside our sphere of knowledge. I don't know, maybe I'm a strange person, but hasn't anyone else been kept up at night wondering what's really out there? I remember doing an astronomy section in my earth science, it must be six years ago now. Anyway, during that section my teacher put up a poster with a picture of a galaxy. The galaxy had an arrow pointing to the edge, with words saying, "You Are Here" written by it. Seriously, that week I must have gotten like three hours of sleep a night because I would think about that.

Like I said, I'm probably just abnormal on that count. This class is messing with my mind worse than any philosophy class ever could.

health and gender
Name: Brie Farle
Date: 2002-09-15 01:16:28
Link to this Comment: 2682

In response to Margaret's posting, I am curious to know what issue of the NY Times your article comes from. I am in the process of beginning a paper proposal, part of which deals with women and medicine. I am considering the idea that ailments and diseases suffered only by women would already have a cure, if men were equally afflicted. I think it is interesting that women receive less attention, as your article states, despite the fact that we are more vocal in describing our pain. My post is not so scientific or biological, but yours caught my attention. If you read this, could you send me the date of your article?? I guess we can only hope that women will soon receive the attention we deserve to stay healthy and pain-free.

kidnappers and child molesters
Name: Michele Do
Date: 2002-09-15 05:38:57
Link to this Comment: 2684

My sister, who currently lives in New York and is studying psychology, came to visit me this weekend. Somehow we got on the subject of the recent news events of kidnappings and child molestations. Whether it is the priest scandals or the R kelly case, there was also large coverage on the kidnappings of little girls this summer. It seems that the offenders follow a general background and profile. Are the kidnappers genetically predisposed to these psychotic behaviors? In one of her psychology courses, she learned that warning signals are present in early childhood. Violent behavior with pets, bullying, extreme moodiness are some tempermantal warning signs. Are these profiles biologically constructed through DNA? How much of our biological make up is responsible for controlling our social and psychological responses?

Name: Katie Camp
Date: 2002-09-15 09:17:40
Link to this Comment: 2685

As I read through some of the previously posted comments this week, I was not so surprised to find the issues on my mind already voiced by many of my peers. Frustrations, sleep, and my routine have weighed heavily on my mind during this past week. Is it that I haven't gotten enough sleep so my frustrations are ampliphied and therefore I can't seem to find my routine? I guess part of it could just be that I am a freshman in college...High School was four years long and I had all that time to adjust in my own house with a family I could be upset at or cry to, and I could figure out how to balance my routine of schoolwork, community service, work, cross country practic, and SLEEP. Now it seems slightly impossible, even BIOLOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE. I don't understand how I'm expected to do so many things in such little time and do them so well. But then I have moments when I remember what we discuss in Biology every day and I realize that not only in the classroom but outside, in life, we should be wrong AT LEAST three times a week. And being wrong could include accidently forgetting a part of the reading assignment, finding myself weary at Tuesday's practice, or putting off preperation of my fourth hour French assignment until dinner time before. In the end I suppose it all comes together, whether biologically or in some similar way of life. With all of the frustrations about getting enough sleep, doing enough work, trying too hard to find my rountine of balance I figure I should just thrust myself into it all and what will come of that are a few wrong turns and some right ones that all add up. Just like in biology...right? I'll get a summary of observations that must be tweaked to each new circumstance and change with every day, just like life. Nothing stays constant, not even the frustrations or not getting enough sleep...I got almost nine hours last night and so what if I skipped my morning run...I'll run this afternoon!

Humans and evolution
Name: Mer
Date: 2002-09-15 09:48:30
Link to this Comment: 2686

Reading about Pangea in Chapter 25 was very interesting. But one line that I noticed that seemed somewhat unexplained was the sentences Australia. "On Australia, marsupials evolved and diversified, while placental mammals evolved and diversified on other continents," (pg. 470)

Over the summer, I read a book entitled "Guns, Germs, and Steel" (by Jared Diamond). His theory was that the world was a massive Pangea, but then after the break up, humans were also split apart from each other on these different continents. As a result, they grew and evolved in different climates, making them very different peoples after thousands of year.

But Diamond also mentioned the affect that humans had on their different environments. He claims that the reason there are no large mammals on Australia is because they were all decimated by humans. And since Australia is relatively small in comparison to Eurasia or the Americas, it seems reasonable (to me at least) that humans caused large Australian mammals to "go extinct."

So what are the implications? I am not sure. But it does (in my mind) render Australia less "unique" as a biological entity and more victimized by the evolution of man.

Name: Chelsea
Date: 2002-09-15 10:13:40
Link to this Comment: 2687

Hey everyone:) I was just about to use some antibacterial stuff on my hands, when I remembered that someone (sorry, I don't know who!) wrote about the fact that it only makes the bacteria MORE resistant. Well, I have something fun you can do with all that wasted hand gel...

1) Find matches, a lighter, etc...LEAVE YOUR DORM
2) Pour the gel (or make pretty patterns) on a sidewalk
3) Light
4) Enjoy!

It burns blue, and for a reeeeeeeeeeeeeeally long time too, lots of fun!! Not that I'm a pyromanic or anything... hehe

questions about the lab
Name: Margot
Date: 2002-09-15 10:55:29
Link to this Comment: 2688

The lab that we did this past week really did make me think about the importance of organization that we bring to the notion of science. I found the experience of cataloging plant life far more frustrating than I had presupposed simply for the reason that I didn't feel as though looking at weeds in a small courtyard would be of much interest. The questions that came to me after observing things are as follows. When it gets right down to it, can you really make distinctions between two very similar looking small plants through just sight and touch or can these distinctions only be formalized when looking at things from a smaller scale? Are all types of science so conscious of using a human's ability and need to organize the natural world? Will we ever be able to use organization as intensely as we do on small scales on large ones?

Women's Health
Name: Lawral Wor
Date: 2002-09-15 11:01:45
Link to this Comment: 2689

I want to further comment on the issue that both Margaret and Brie have brought up. Women's health issues, it would seem, have always gotten less attention that more traditionally men's diseases. It's good that people are finally discussing seriously the different treatment women and men receive.

This is a funny article that Gloria Steinem wrote in the 80's about women's health and how things would be different if men had more of the "problems" that we have. Enjoy!

I know less than none html, so I think you're going to have to copy and past the link if you want to read the article. Sorry.

the universe
Name: virginia
Date: 2002-09-15 11:05:58
Link to this Comment: 2690

hey everyone, i think i'm not the only one who was totally fascinated by friday's class. it was so amazing to see the relativity and really feel just how small we are... but the whole process got me thinking. now, i'm not an advocate of htis theory, personally, but i really strongly think that the universe displays some interesting characteristics here that are worth noting...

1) although things seem like random order up close (much like examining a sample of human blood under a microscope might seem like random order, with cells strewn all over in no particular visible pattern) but as we pan out and look "closer" i.e. further, we start to see patterns every few screens.

2) it's a pretty commonly accepted scientific theory (as far as i know) that the universe was created from the big bang - that is, it was a miraculous explosion that lead to a body full of seemingly infinite planet/etc content that began to grow and expand, and is ever continuing to do so.

3) i've heard it said in a not entirely un-scientific context that scientists wonder if there aren't parallel universes, all experiencing hte same thing ours is in their own realm or whatever. i dont know much about this but i know it's a theory, or at least that it makes it into cheesy sci-fi productions.

what do these three things suggest, you ask? well.... #1 shows that, even at great distances, and it could be argued ESPECIALLY at great distances, the universe seems to display the same IMPROBABLE ASSEMBLY that is so typical of LIFE.

#2 shows that the universe is undergoing a constant GROWTH, most likely dependent on some form of ENERGY as most traditional movement is according to our laws of physics, which is pretty darn similar to ANY LIFE FORM.

#3 (the slightly wishy-washy one, i suppose) could suggest that the universe is in fact in a NETWORK of other living breathing moving growing organisms like itself, and that perhaps htey are some sort of interdependent species in a larger still ecosystem...

now i'm not ACTUALLY saying the universe is some big living breathing growing organism, but i'd love to challenge all the hotshot cosmologists and astronomers to prove that it isn't.

The implications of a "Fast-food Nation"
Name: Kate Amlin
Date: 2002-09-15 11:48:24
Link to this Comment: 2691

Yesterday I had an overly long conversation about the epidemic of obesity that the United States faces due to over-consumption at fast-food restaurants. Apparently, some man has initiated a class-action suit against one of the major fast-food chains because he insists that the restaurant made him fat. This case interests me for several reasons. First, the fast-food industry does willingly contribute towards the growing waistlines of our nation by marketing high-calorie food to the general population. Come on, the industry wants to make money. They don't care what's in their products as long as they can make a profit. But at the same time, can the industry really be blamed for an individual's irresponsible eating habits? The restaurants do post nutritional information if you hunt around for it and no one is under the illusion that fast food is in fact a healthy meal choice. Unfortunately, some people don't have the time or money to eat anywhere else so they keep biting into Big Macs since McDonald's does always make you smile. I think the industry is at fault at the point that it privileges advertisements that show how big and juicy their burgers are and not how sick you'll feel after you eat one. Except for that salad deal in a cup...when was the last time that anyone saw an ad for a "healthy-choice" at a fast-food restaurant? The industry needs to take responsibility for marketing unhealthy food but it's also time for individuals to realize how much that quick bite to eat will add to your dress size.

Name: heidi
Date: 2002-09-15 12:09:30
Link to this Comment: 2692

I was surfing the web yesterday and came upon the topic of suicide. It fascinated me to read about the reasons and attempts to help. I want to share some of these thoughts with you.

Why do people kill themselves?
Most of the time people who kill themselves are very sick with depression or one of the other types of depressive illnesses, which occur when the chemicals in a person's brain get out of balance or become disrupted in some way. Healthy people do not kill themselves. A person who has depression does not think like a typical person who is feeling good. Their illness prevents them from being able to look forward to anything. They can only think about NOW and have lost the ability to imagine into the future. Many times they don't realize they are suffering from a treatable illness and they feel they can't be helped. Seeking help may not even enter their mind. They do not think of the people around them, family or friends, because of their illness. They are consumed with emotional, and many times, physical pain that becomes unbearable. They don't see any way out. They feel hopeless and helpless. They don't want to die, but it's the only way they feel their pain will end. It is a non-rational choice. Getting depression is involuntary - no one asks for it, just like people don't ask to get cancer or diabetes. But, we do know that depression is a treatable illness.

Depression is a disease that affects the entire body. Changes int he brain chemistry make it happen. It´s a brain disease. According to Joseph H. Talley, M.D. no one knows what causes depression although I will make sure to look into that some more. He does say however that depression can strike normal healthy happy people, people that have "no reason" to be depressed.
I would like to leave you with some interresting stats.
The number one cause of suicide in untreated depression.
30,000 suicide deaths occur nationlly in one year and that number is rising.

Back to the topic of sleep
Name: Sarah Tan
Date: 2002-09-15 12:13:26
Link to this Comment: 2693

Sleep, to me, is one of the great pleasures in life. Given my self-imposed hectic schedule, it's also not generally something I get a whole lot of. My frustration this year comes not only from having absurdly early morning classes but direct sunlight shining into my room around 7:30 a.m. My window shade this year is translucent as opposed to last year's opaque, so this year, on the few days when I haven't had to wake up early, I ended up waking up around 8 anyway because of the light. Last night I decided that I was going to sleep until my body woke itself up, so I turned off my alarm and put on the eye shades that airlines give out. Result: I slept until 11. And even though I'm still somewhat tired (why?!), at least I did manage to deny the sun the satisfaction of waking me up again in stealing a few more precious hours.

Name: Will
Date: 2002-09-15 12:55:46
Link to this Comment: 2694

The Gaia Principle really intrigued me in class the other day so I decided to read a little more about at
The idea of Earth as a living organism is an incredible thought, one that I'm still struggling with. It does seem to fit our requirements for life, even one of the ones we discarded in class: Earth is one living organism without others to interact with therefore eliminating the idea of "Life" as a whole. But much of the website that I read explained how Earth has been evolving atmospherically and temperature-wise throughout all of its existence. This was caused by (or causing?) the different forms of life such as algae, that created an over-oxidation during one period of time which was then regulated by the earth and toned down to a level in which life thrived. The other argument that the Earth is not alive is that it doesn't reproduce, which seems valid. But imagine a one-generation species. Reproduction isn't a pre-requisite for life, it's a characteristic of life, and if Earth is a one-generation species then that species will just die out after it's lifespan, and so be it, it was still a living organism while it existed. The website gives a good history of the argument, some of the criticism (which include lack of evolution, generations, etc) and defends the Gaia principle against the critics. Below is a quote from James Lovelock, the man who came up with the Gaia principle in the 1960s.

"For me, the personal revelation of Gaia came quite suddenly - like a flash of enlightenment. I was in a small room on the top floor of a building at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. It was the autumn of 1965 ... and I was talking with a colleague, Dian Hitchcock, about a paper we were preparing ... It was at that moment that I glimpsed Gaia. An awesome thought came to me. The Earth's atmosphere was an extraordinary and unstable mixture of gases, yet I knew that it was constant in composition over quite long periods of time. Could it be that life on Earth not only made the atmosphere, but also regulated it - keeping it at a constant composition, and at a level favourable for organisms?" (1991)

Name: Roma
Date: 2002-09-15 13:31:06
Link to this Comment: 2696

Kate's comments on "the implications of a fast-food nation" caught my eye and I realized how much my friends and I talk about food, eating disorders, weight gain and weight loss. After every summer break when we come back to college, general comments about everyone's appearance becomes part of that first conversation when we see each other after 3 long months. And who hasn't heard about the (in)famous *freshman 15*? Every college fresh(wo)man's nightmare!
It is true that America is perhaps the leading fast-food nation but the world as a whole is increasingly becoming hooked to the idea of fast-food, no matter where you go; London, Delhi, Singapore City... fast food places are everywhere.
But it is not just the matter of eating healthy. With the pace at which technology is growing life is becoming much easier, there is less activity in our daily lives and hence less exercise.
The media is not helping people foster confidence in themselves either. Having waifer-thin models on the cover of every magazine or commercials will not promote a good body image among those who actually have a healthy body.
Unhealthy food, not enough exercise, negative media, obese/anorexic citizens of the's a vicious circle.

Hydrogen Peroxide
Name: Chelsea W.
Date: 2002-09-15 13:31:32
Link to this Comment: 2697

The other day, while reaching across the mail room counter for my package, I cut my hand on a tape dispenser (yes, I know this sounds like an absurd way to get injured). Once I was back in my dorm, I washed the cut and poured hydrogen peroxide over it. I used hydrogen peroxide mostly because this is what I had always been told to do, but this incident got me wondering about why, exactly, hydrogen peroxide works in this situation (and also why does it foam on the cut). I looked it up online, I found information about using hydrogen peroxide in doing everything from treating contaminated water to fueling rockets to growing mushrooms. As it turns out, apparently it foams on cuts because the hydrogen peroxide undergoes a chemical reaction which splits it into water and oxygen when it comes in contact with catalase (an enzyme in my blood and cells). And, it seems that the purpose of pouring hydrogen peroxide over a cut is supposed to be to expose it to high concentrations of oxygen (released in the chemical reaction) which is said to kill some germs -- but there also is supposedly some debate over how effective this is. (See and

Does life require diversity?
Name: stephanie
Date: 2002-09-15 14:18:35
Link to this Comment: 2698

While discussing the properties of a living organism in class, we stumbled upon the question : Can we have life without diversity? In a sense, can life occur in an environment with just one type of organism? It seemed obvious to me that of course life could not sustain itself without the help of other living things because everything is so interdependent on each other. This implies that organisms are in fact specialized and each has its own niche to fill in order for life to occur.

However, I later got to thinking about some readings from my old environmental science class in high school. In one of the text books were chapters on r- and k-strategist species. K-strategist species, as I recall, are those which reproduce at slower rates with fewer offspring, are generally larger in size and have a longer life span.. Examples include humans, elephants, horses, etc... R-strategist species are those which constantly reproduce, have large numbers of offspring, reach maturity levels faster, and have a shorter life-span. Examples include most insects like cockroaches, mosquitoes, etc.

With this in mind, if ever the diversity of an environment were endangered and wiped out (through fire, drought, nuclear bomb, etc..) the specialized species (mainly k-strategists) would not survive and in effect, only the cockroaches would roam the earth. Because they are very adaptable and generalized to their environment, and also hold the properties of an r-strategist, it would be significantly easier for them to survive and endure. It would take a considerable amount of destruction in order to kill off "pests" such as cockroaches. They are such a generalized and highly adaptable species that bug killing toxins and pesticides are constantly being altered in order to keep up with their adaptability.

The question then becomes, If an environment were destroyed and mass extinction occurred, only leaving such animals as the cockroach, how long could such an organism sustain itself? It almost seems that some living things were "created" for this very reason, to withstand homogeny and adapt themselves to live without diversity; making the property not so essential to life after all.

Name: Christine
Date: 2002-09-15 15:49:47
Link to this Comment: 2700

I found an interesting website about a new force in the artworld called bioart, which aims to represent the artistic side of scientists. One scientist/artist, Dr. Hunter O'Reilly, caught my attention with her 2001 collection called "The Art of Death: Viruses are Beautiful!" She took electron micrographs of viruses, enlarged and colored them, then illuminated them to illustrated their beauty. Check them out at

universe theory
Name: Diana Fern
Date: 2002-09-15 16:17:40
Link to this Comment: 2701

this is a belated reply to a problem that professor Grobstein made the first week of class regarding the issue of physicists being in a bind trying to figure out why the universe is expanding so quickly. I asked my dad who is a physicist how scientists were accounting for this disparity in the laws of graity. He said that they theorized that there was some force within the universe that is pushing out, for example some dark matter, or some sort of black hole. The emmisions from darkmatter could overcome the force of gravity, such as electro magnetic waves(well not exactly electro magentic waves because they could account for that, but perhaps something similiar). I just thought that it was an interesting problem and i wonder what exactly is causeing the expansion, I hope we find out in my lifetime.

Name: Carrie
Date: 2002-09-15 16:39:32
Link to this Comment: 2702

Well, since it is a grey, humid, Sunday seemed like the perfect time to contemplate some of this biology business we've all been discussing. And, to echo the sentiments of other comments here, I enjoyed the direction that Friday's class took as well. The recognition- or even just the attempt to realize- how small our lives are, how our existence is only one manifestation of life...that perspective has always given me a sense of personal reprieve. Our smallness (I hesitate to use insignificance...) can be our freedom as well. It can give us a sense of humor about this whole "life" thing; rather than becoming absorbed with our own personal anxieties, we're welcome to question people, listen to their stories, and simply explore.

So...yeah. That was my awkward moment of affirmation for the day. And, now back to more lazy Sunday activities. Maybe next Sunday, I'll try a more "scientific" approach to this forum.

suicide and depression
Name: Diana La F
Date: 2002-09-15 19:41:44
Link to this Comment: 2703

While looking over the comments posted since Friday I came over the one on suicide and depression. While it was actually really well thought out and put forward nicely, I wanted to clear up some things that most people usually think about depression and suicide.

People who are depressed do not ask for it, as was already stated. They're affected by both internal chemicals (or lack thereof) and outside influences. Every one has been, or will be, depressed at some point in their life, but not to a horrible extent if you're lucky.

When someone's depressed they do know that there are ways to cure it. However, this is where most people become confused. If it can be treated, why don't some people get treatment? It's the nature of the beast, really. They think people will look down on them if they admit to being depressed. They feel ashamed that they are depressed and that they can't take care of it themselves. Most people don't know why they're depressed so they don't think they have any reason to be so. It feeds the depression even more, an I'm-not-worthy attitude that feeds insecurity. Add this to the fact that therapy doesn't work fast and is up to the patient more than the therapist, and you have what's seemingly a dead end.

Suicide directly feeds off of this. Most people who are suicidal are scared that they are. The dead end of their emotions gets to be too much, and it's like being in a stagnant pool. SOMETHING has to happen, they don't want to stay in that place anymore but they don't know how to change anything. So they try to kill themselves. For the most part, attempts will thankfully not be successful and can sometimes lead to others finding out. This solves a problem: Others know and can now help and the suicidal person didn't need to tell them.

But suicide attempts do succeed. One of the worst parts is that these people are showing signs, trying to tell those around them whats going on in the only way they can, but the people around them don't want to admit that it could happen.

I believe there's more to biology than the facts we're given. The thoughts of someone who is depressed affects them as much if not more than the chemical factors that help to cause the depression. But how do we explain thoughts in biology? How are we supposed to deal with the grey areas that are so hard to explain but that really matter the most?

Name: Laura Silv
Date: 2002-09-16 01:05:32
Link to this Comment: 2705

I was reading what Diana posted about depression and I just have to say that I think that was a wonderful statement. I mean, if we were able to cure all cases of depression, that would be wonderful, but before we can do that, we have to be able to get the people with these symptoms of depression to come forward and seek treatment, which is difficult because of the social implications of admitting to depression are, as Diana said, somewhat pressuring. I mean, people treat you differently when you admit that you're taking depression meds, as if the slightest thing that they say or do wrong will force you to kill someone - maybe yourself. It's not always easy to get people to step forward. Okay that's all it's one o'clock in the morning and I'M GOING TO BED. Goodnight all,


How small can we get?
Name: Diana La F
Date: 2002-09-16 15:35:18
Link to this Comment: 2710

After discusing how small a living organism can get I was reminded of a theory I had when I was five and that still makes me think today.

Ok, get ready for the insanity that is my mind:

Has anyone else noticed that an atom resembles a galaxy? seriously, we don't have a very good picture of an atom, but they really do look similar. What if a galaxy as we know it is just one big atom, and earth is actually revolving around one of the outer most electrons in this atom and the galaxy-atom we live in makes up someones toenail? Think about it, the world might end if they stub their toe...

I seriously think this class is driving me to a point of insanity I have never previously visited. I'll leave you ponder and with the hope that we are part of someone with very good coordination.

In response to Diana
Name: Anastasia
Date: 2002-09-16 21:14:32
Link to this Comment: 2712

Well that is the most insane thing I have ever heard of, but the scary thing is that it could be true. How do we know? I mean in reality, most likely, it isn't true. Scientists probably have enough evidence to disprove that theory, but it is kind of scary. Something along the same line that I have always thought about is Big Brother. How do we know that all the events in history really actually happened? Couldn't it just be the government teaching everyone the same things for a certain purpose? It is kind of silly, but it could be possible. All the talk about whether or not we actually ever landed on the moon. Is it possible the the government created those pictures? Just like us being someone's toe, we might not know all there is to know about how our world is really run.

Name: Kyla Ellis
Date: 2002-09-17 13:22:24
Link to this Comment: 2719

Hey Diana, have you ever seen that one movie, Men in Black? My favorite part was at the end when the whole galaxy turns out to be a marble that some alien puts in a bag. Pretty wierd, but kinda cool. Like they say in Contact, there's a whole lot of space out there and it wouldn't really make sense if we were the only living organisms in all that area.
Anyway, so yeah, it sounds like we're getting into the whole Truman Show/1984 thing. That has always creeped me out... I'd rather just not think of it. (By the way, I don't always relate things to movies, I hardly ever watch them, I just seem to be doing that a lot right now). But what if we're just here becase someone else put us here, and here is no such thing as history, free will, etc. Maybe that would be a better explanation to some people, at least it would give us some sort of purpose, if we were put here for the benefit of something or someone else. Maybe that's where religion comes from. It seems that all religions in one way or another give us a reason for being here. I'm not slamming religion, this is just a thought.

big toes, marbles and the like
Name: Chelsea
Date: 2002-09-17 19:09:18
Link to this Comment: 2733

hahaha, you guys crack me up...mostly because these are the kind of thoughts that also occur to me at 4 in the morning when I could be doing something more immediately productive like sleeping. There isn't anyhting crazy about it at all, though, it's totally natural to question the things around us- for instance, have you ever had one of those days when everything falls into place and it's like the whole world really does revolve around you (you see the guy/girl you like while looking fantastic, the class you always find unbearable gets canceled AND your other profs decide that since it's such a lovely day you shouldn't have to do homework, your friends throw a party at just the moment you're in the mood for one, they serve your favorite meal for dinner, and you luckily get the last used copy of your *ahem* outrageously expensive bio book;)- maybe those days are when the person whose big toe we live on is wearing their favorite pair of shoes. Of course, since these things always seem to balance each other out (random, i think not), the next day they wear a new pair of shoes and get a you see where I'm going with this? Me neither. My point is: there is organization at so many levels and the levels are so varied, that there is no way to say where the limit is...if we're someone's toenail, maybe they're something else's earwax, and that's someone/thing's itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka-dot bikini- WE'LL NEVER KNOW, but if you let yourself just go with it, the possibilities are endless.

little people
Name: lawral wor
Date: 2002-09-18 16:19:44
Link to this Comment: 2754

let me preface this by saying that i babysit a lot.

have any of you ever read/seen "horton hears a who" by dr. seuss? horton, this big elephant, can hear someone talking very quietly. it turns out it's a scientist from a little tiny planet on a piece of dust. throughout the story, everyone makes fun of horton and calls him crazy and all of that. oh, and they try to kill the dustball planet. being dr. suess, the story has a moral at the end. we should be accepting of others even if we don't understand them. how sweet.

so we can totally blame our good/bad days on the shoes the chick whose toe we live on is wearing, but we have to forgive her for them!

Name: Chelsea
Date: 2002-09-18 17:42:51
Link to this Comment: 2757

Lawral, you're so right...we all wear shoes that give us blisters sometimes, it's important to forgive:)

Name: Sarah Tan
Date: 2002-09-18 19:49:46
Link to this Comment: 2758

For once I was not only awake in class today but also somewhat alert. I thought that the comparison between the eukaryotic and prokaryotic single-celled organisms was interesting, but it did make me wonder: I learned in junior high "life science" that cells have certain necessary parts--namely, nucleus, mitochondria, and other whatchies whose names or purposes I don't remember. All these components are membrane-bound. But if prokaryotic cells (bacteria) don't have membrane-bound things inside the main membrane/cell wall, then what do they have inside? Just empty plasma (and DNA, I presume)? What determines when a cell is really a cell, if you can't go by the parts inside of it? Also, surely not all single-celled organisms are ameoba-like in their reproduction (that whole splitting into two business. I used to know all these technical names). So how else do they reproduce? Are there male and female versions of single cells? Can you look at a single-celled organism under a microscope and determine if it has the equivalent of XY or XX chromosomes?

I briefly looked through the bio book (which is only the... uh... well, let's just say I haven't spent a lot of time with it), and maybe I wasn't looking in the right places, but I didn't get too much useful information to my questions. In the pictures, it looked like eukaryotic cells are transparent so you can look through them, whereas the prokaryotic cells are either opaque or you can look through them but there's nothing there. I don't know if that's just something with the way the pictues are in the book, if there are cross-sections done, or if that's the way things really are with those particular organisms. There is a diagram showing that two paramecia (parameciums?) are needed to reproduce, but I didn't really understand the caption. There was also something about parameciums eating bacteria, which makes me wonder what the size difference is between the eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. The question of why there aren't multi-cellular organisms made of prokaryotic cells is also definitely worth thinking about, but I'd rather understand how the single-celled ones work first.

differences between cells
Name: Diana La F
Date: 2002-09-18 22:36:45
Link to this Comment: 2762

I think that it doesn't matter if bacteria cells have separate parts in them (that we can see) because bacteria aren't as specialized. Pretty much, don't they just reproduce and consume? I'm not saying that more specialized cells do more than this, but they are larger and they do move around more. Maybe it has to do with not only the size and purpose of the cell but also the membrane on the outside. Could a bacteria cell, which I'm guessing lives a shorter life than, say, an ameoba, have a different makeup to their membrane that makes it more opaque and thus more difficult for us to differentiate through?

evolution of...everything
Name: Brenda Zer
Date: 2002-09-19 11:58:09
Link to this Comment: 2773

In regards to what Sarah was talking about "The question of why there aren't multi-cellular organisms made of prokaryotic cells", I think that from what we've seen about evolution on this planet, it is always possible that sometime in the future (before our star collapses, or we kill out all life on this planet on our own!) that there will be 'larger' organisms composed of prokaryotic cells. I think that it's probably just a matter of time before our evolution leads us towards that. Or, our planet could simply be set up in such a way that makes multi-celluar prokaryotic life impossible. There really are no answers, just more questions.

Name: Emily Sene
Date: 2002-09-19 14:44:19
Link to this Comment: 2775

"Some people say there are true things to be found, some people say all kinds of things can be proved. I don't believe them. The only thing for certain is how complicated it all is..."
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson

I'm reading this book for an english class, but thought this quote applied to the idea that no scientific theory can ever be accepted as absolute truth.


Name: Anne Sulli
Date: 2002-09-19 21:11:47
Link to this Comment: 2785

A friend of mine recently joined an athletic team on campus which, like most sports, is extremely taxing on one's body. At about the same time she began this activity, she noticed an irritation in one ankle that was later diagnosed as tendonitis. Wanting to fully participate in all the practices and games, my poor friend has been constantly icing her ankle and waiting for a recovery. Me, being the paranoid person that I am, have been urging her to take a break from physical activity in order to let her ankle heal. In the meantime, I decided to find out a little more about this common ailment. Tendonitis, I found, is caused when one's tendon (the connection between muscle and bone) becomes inflamed. It can be caused by repeated overuse of the tendon, obesity, poorly fitting shoes, bone spurs in the affected area, etc. It is characterized by either a sharp, aching pain, swelling, or weakness. Icing is a good treatment, as is serious rest of the injured area. If ignored, tendonitis can weaken tendons, making them vulnerable to ruptures and tears. The usual recovery time for this condition is 10-14 days. It is a fairly common condition among athletes, but should definitely be taken seriously.


Name: kathryn ba
Date: 2002-09-19 21:30:18
Link to this Comment: 2787

I was so relieved to read Diana's comment about us living on someone/thing's toenail. Since I was little I have had similar thoughts but just blew them off (there is little sense in driving yourself crazy :). Our class discussions about size also got me thinking about Diana's "toenail theory" a little bit too. Does it really matter if we do live on someone's toenail? Would it change our way of life? Of course quite a few religious organizations would have some problems, but other than that, what good would it do to find out if we lived on someone's toe? I admit it would be very interesting, but for me, ignorance can be bliss. Besides, what if the person got athlete's foot? Would our world come to an end? I would rather not know.

Comments on everyone else's comments
Name: Maggie
Date: 2002-09-19 21:40:18
Link to this Comment: 2788

I just finally caught up with the new forum, and I think there is a lot of interesting stuff being tossed around. First, Diana et al: Has anyone else read Piers Anthony's Xanth books? The later ones went a little crazy, I think he was running out of normal puns and had to get caught up in nutty plots. BUT the point is that Iris (I think? It has been a long time) has one or more (?) planets circling her head, and of course, on each of those planets there is another Iris, who is completely different but the same person, and she also has a planet orbiting her head, with another Iris on it... Get the picture? It gets pretty ridiculous, but it's the same basic idea. And of course, the people in the books can only go smaller, but who is to say that they aren't on some other Iris' planet themselves?

Chelsea- I love your description of the good day, and the possible reasons for why. It's nice to think we should just go with it, because it does make the possibilities endless. Of course, then none of us will ever get any sleep.

So then, speaking of sleep... I haven't been getting any! It isn't, amazingly enough, because I'm too busy. For the past week and a half, I just haven't been able to sleep. I lay in bed for hours until I fall asleep, and then I wake up at 5 or 6 in the morning. I'm open to alternative sleeping patterns, so I have tried napping in the afternoons when I'm done with class. I can't fall asleep even then. Insomnia, perhaps? Well that is what I thought, so I decided I would do my web paper on insomnia and see what is going on. (Yay for finding a topic!) I don't have any of the normal problems that would cause insomnia, and the weirdest thing is that I don't wake up feeling unrefreshed, drowsy or irritable. I can go all day on as little as three hours of sleep, and then still can't fall asleep that evening. It is rather difficult to concentrate during the day, especially, say, in French class. But I'm not tired all day, or irritable (more than normal) and I don't ever drift off to sleep in classes. So besides not being able to concentrate as well as I used to, I am not that affected by this. Strange. Nothing that I have found on any sleep disorders has given me an explanation. If anyone has had prior experiences like this, or any other sleeping disorders, I would be interested... especially since I need some help for my paper!

Name: Diana DiMu
Date: 2002-09-20 00:08:14
Link to this Comment: 2789

In response to Maggie's comments:
I think that even though you are not irritable or drowsy, and that you can manage to function on 3 hours of sleep, you could still very well have some form of insomnia. So it might still be a good idea to try some of the suggestions for getting a better night's sleep, even if you think you don't have all the "required" symptoms. Not being able to sleep could be in response to lots of different things: getting used to your bed at bryn mawr, the temperature of your room, maybe your diet, how close you eat to when you go to sleep, whether you get enough exercise, or whether you exercise too close to going to bed. Maybe you get stressed thinking about what you have to do the next day and can't focus on just clearing out your head and getting some sleep. One thing's for sure. Once you've stayed up a certain amount of hours, you pass the point of no return and are no longer tired. You get your second wind so to speak. So yeah, why not be able to function on 3 or 4 hours sleep? I know a lot of girls who do during the course of the school year. But just because that may be true doesn't mean it's healthy. Although, not everyone needs the same hours of sleep to be well rested. Maybe you can function well on less than 7 hours. Maybe it's not such a bad idea even to go to the health center and ask one of the nurses or doctors on call for some advice. I'm not sure any of these things will work or help you to be honest, since I've been having a lot of trouble sleeping myself. But it can't hurt to try right? Good luck to you maggie. At least your web paper will be helpful.

Name: Adrienne W
Date: 2002-09-20 10:34:16
Link to this Comment: 2790

I was thinking about the issue of insomnia and it sounded like a good argument that certain people can function well on very little sleep. However, even though you might feel fine on the outside, I was thinking that there must be some repercussions inside of the body that you do not see. For example, your body repairs its muscles while it sleeps. Especially if you exercise or do sports, little sleep must be harmful to muscles because you are not giving them enough time to repair. Personally, I also think lack of sleep affects my brain functioning in terms of memory and concentration.

do I really need to put a subject?
Name: Diana La F
Date: 2002-09-20 12:30:15
Link to this Comment: 2793

I've been keeping up with this forum for the entire week. Mainly because I was a little...uh, shall we say hyper when I wrote my first comment? I was afraid everyone would realize just how crazy I am. And here I try to hide it as well as I can. I'm really glad to hear that other people have these thoughts, or understand where I'm coming from. It's reassuring to know I'm not the only person who will write something so crazy on this forum.

On a slightly related note, I've discovered why I was so hyper on Monday and, consequentially, why I've been getting such good sleep. One word: Exercise. You've all heard how much exercise helps you sleep better, feel better during the day, but I never realized how true it was! I never really had anything to judge it against, but this summer I didn't really have the time or the resources to work out like I wanted to. I came back to school and have been going to the gym religiously. Since then, I've gotten more sleep, better quality sleep, and I have more energy during the day (except for those two hours or so after I've worked out, my body's tired then, and in the morning because I am NOT a morning person). So, there is truth to the exercise theory we've all had drilled into our head by coaches and gym teachers and health official alike. Yay, it's not just a ploy by the gym enterprise to get us to spend money to join them!

The Bean Trees
Name: Jodie
Date: 2002-09-20 14:42:25
Link to this Comment: 2797

Has anyone ever read The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver? I keep thinking about it in class...there is a part in it where she talks about Wisteria vines and how they depend on rhizobia. It says in the book, "wisteria vines, like other legumes, often thrive in poor soil. Their secret is something called rhizobia. These are microscopic bugs that live underground in little knots on the roots. They suck nitrogen gas right out of the soil and turn it into fertilizer for the plant." (this is found on page 305 of the Bean Trees) I was reminded of this when we were discussing the definition of a living organism. It is also interesting to think of this when discussing plants and animals. Plants are autotrophic and animals are heterotrophic; but does it matter that the little bugs help out the autotrophic plant? Anyway it's a neat example. Kingsolver goes on to discuss how humans have their own support systems in each other, blah blah blah. That's her metaphor and the reason the book is called the Bean Trees.

Will our present conceptualizations "evolve" too?
Name: Kate Amlin
Date: 2002-09-20 18:46:27
Link to this Comment: 2805

Today's class discussion made me think about the ephemeral nature of scientific theories. In 2002, the "Great Chain of Being" theory for diversity seems extremely out-dated and simple (even if we do assume that it holds some small residual fleck of truth). We (ok, at least some of us...) take the tenets of Evolution as absolute truth and scoff at the idea that an alternate hypothesis for diversity exist. I think it's fascinating that what we believe is "true" today will probably be refuted in the future. Who will disprove Darwin and on what grounds? It seems silly that we base so much of Biology on a conjecture that can't be proven. But since absolute truth doesn't seem to exist I guess I won't rip that "Darwin is God" bumper sticker off my car just yet.

Name: Erin Sarah
Date: 2002-09-20 19:37:07
Link to this Comment: 2808

It seems stress sets in earlier and earlier with each consecutive semster that you are at Bryn Mawr. I know that stress is psychological but I wanted to know about happens biologically in your body when you are stressed.
Stress is your body's reaction to what is perceives as danger. Virtually all systems (eg, the heart and blood vessels, the immune system, the lungs, the digestive system, the sensory organs, and brain) are modified to meet the perceived danger. Stressors can be either external (adverse physical conditions such as pain or extreme temperatures) or internal (physiological or psychological).Stressors can also be defined as acute (short term) or chronic (long term). In the case of acute stress once the acute threat has passed, the response becomes inactivated and levels of stress hormones return to normal, a condition called the relaxation response. Chronic stress results from on going stresses when the common response to threat: to flee or to flight is suppressed.
Your bodies first response to stress is activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) system in part of your brain. The HPA system triggers the production of steriod horomones including the primary stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol helps organize all the systems in your body to deal quickly with the threat.
The HPA system also releases certain neurotransmitters particularly dopamine, norepinephrine and adrenaline. These chemicals activate the amygdala inside your brain which triggers an emotional response to the stressful event. They also trigger the hippocampus (nearby in the brain) to store the event in your long-term memory, and they suppress activity in areas at the front of the brain concerned with short-term memory, concentration, inhibition, and rational thought, while hindering your ability to handle complex social or intellectual tasks and behaviors. These all help you deal quickly with the threat. These reactions of your body are often life saving during physical stress.
The problem is, I'd say most of my stress is psychological. I stress because I have too much work and too little time. At the end of the month I have too little money. I care about my grades and good grades are hard to get. I don't know what I'm going to do next year. I don't know what I really want to do next year. I woke up one day and I was 21! When psychological stress strikes your body does the exact same thing, but increased heart rate, blood pressure, circulation, and breathing with the loss of short-term memory, concentration, inhibition, and rational thought doesn't help you during an exam, or at the atm when you thought you had $100 and you only have $30. It makes the situation harder to deal with and seems to delay the relaxation response.
It's important to have a healthy way of dealing with stress so it isn't repressed and doesn't become chronic. You can jump on a trampoline, punch a pillow, do yoga, do breath excercises, meditate. It's very important to have a method of dealing with stress to avoid the health problems that can arrise from chronic stress (muscle tension, high blood pressure, heart disease, supressed immunity, gastrointestinal problems, headaches, sleep problems, and eating problems).

Artificial Intelligence
Name: Laura Bang
Date: 2002-09-20 21:07:24
Link to this Comment: 2811

First, I would like to say that everyone has made some really interesting comments this week! It's so much fun to see what other people are thinking about what we're learning. This is one of the coolest science classes I have ever taken because it makes me think in a much more fun way than memorizing facts, etc. does.

Well, anyway...

So I was trying to think of a paper topic last week, and I don't recall quite how, but somehow I stumbled upon the topic of artificial intelligence (AI). It is a really fascinating (and controversial!!) subject, and there are SO many different aspects of it. I decided to focus on the aspect of AI that is attempting to create humanistic AI, that is to say robots like ourselves. What struck me the most in my research was how far back the quest for AI goes. The first automaton that fully replicated human form was created in A.D. 1525! Of course, AI is still far from resembling the imaginative creations of the science fiction genre, such as Robby, C-3PO, and HAL, but progress is definitely being made. One of the most interesting things I did in my research was have an online chat with an AI computer. While I was chatting with the AI computer, I was expecting it to make a lot of mistakes that would reveal it as a machine, but the AI computer made far fewer mistakes than I had expected. It was really fun and interesting. And although it may seem strange, I got the most interesting information about AI from the movie website for Spielberg's AI:Artificial Intelligence. That is where I had the chat with the AI computer, and also they have a really good timeline of the history of AI (although they go up to the year A.D. 2126 with stuff that happened in the movie, I guess). They also have some really good links.

clumpy diversity
Name: Maggie
Date: 2002-09-21 11:19:28
Link to this Comment: 2824

Okay, so I understand the clumpy diversity concept, and why we think it is a real pattern and not just an artifact of human observations. But I have some problems with it. Since humans created the categories that things fall into, it is hard for us to know if clumpy diversity is or isn't due to our preconceptions. For example, once the differences among plants, animals, and fungi were explained to her, a little kid would definitely think that fungi fell outside of our regular categories, falling into the grey area between two clumps. But then we hear about those differences in every science class after that, so it becomes ingrained. Once something is fairly well embedded in our minds, I think it is impossible to decide if it is natural or contrived. We will always be able to draw distinctions between different organisms, so how are we supposed to decide if they are clumpy because of the characteristics we use? Or because nature/supreme being/evolution/etc made them that way? Or because we just make new categories for everything new that we come across?

Oh, and thanks for everyone making me feel even more guilty for not exercising this year! *laugh* Maybe I should force myself to start again, and see if my sleeping improves.

clumpy diversity
Name: Diana La F
Date: 2002-09-21 13:11:28
Link to this Comment: 2829

I agree with Maggie. I think that the only reason that we have clumpy diversity is because we look for it. If we looked for another categorization where there were all these grey areas, how would we categorize? Categorization, by it's very definition (which I'm too lazy to look up right now) means that you have to look for the differences between one thing and another. If there are any grey areas, of which fungi is a perfect example, we make another category for it. Hence the clumpy diversity. I am not, however, saying that clumpy diversity does not exist and that humans are just making it up. The fact that we've found it proves it exists for whatever reasons, whether it's because some greater creative force has no originality (or a sense of humor in the case of the platypus), or whether Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest truly holds true and thus there are no hairy fish, I don't know. However, the one question that comes to mind: If a fish WERE hairy, what would want to eat it?

And I think it's great that we're pressuring each other to exercise. Peer pressure at it's best, eh?

Name: Chelsea Ph
Date: 2002-09-22 01:18:22
Link to this Comment: 2832

hey girls! (and guys) Maggie, I think one of the reasons you've been able to function so well on three hours of sleep is that you aren't getting into REM sleep, so it's enough to recharge your energy stores, which is great, but like Diana (maybe someone else, sorry!!) said, there probably are adverse effects, like your body not getting to repair itself (not that there's anything wrong with being broken;). Anyway, I guess that isn't exactly helpful, is it? I'm sorry! But, I've been going to the gym this week too, and am sleeping pretty well, so maybe that would help you... By the way, thanks for what you said:) And to whoever wrote the thing about athlete's foot- funny!

Name: Katie Camp
Date: 2002-09-22 09:19:25
Link to this Comment: 2833

So let's see, we have sleep, categorization, stress, exercise, and crazy creation theories to choose from in this forum.
I think I'll go with the topic closest to myself on this Sunday morning which is stress, which then relates to sleep and exercise.
I think I seem to have an over abundance of non-stress stress. And I think that's due to the fact that I'm on Cross Country and therefore I get consistent exercise and that exercise wears me out and I then get deep sleep at night...but this all happens while the worry of schoolwork, grades, acheivement in extra curricular activities, the pressure of keeping up with people back home, that reading I didn't finish two weeks ago, and my unfolded laundry swirls around in my mind. So as Erin talked about all of the horrible effects of stress and I am discovering my lax attitude about it all because I have some sort of release in my exercise and sleep, I started to wonder...Do we all need some form of stress to keep us operating? The deadline looming, the mother nagging, the huge phone bill, your good friend pressuring you to come out on a Saturday so you have to do all of your work on Friday (or Sunday I suppose), they all push us to keep moving in someway. If we were stuck with nothing else to do but one thing, would we get that one thing done? By no means am I advocating stress for us or a high strung life style, but maybe there is a balance of non-stress stress. As Emily Breslin wrote in her article for The College News she talked about feeling extremely busy, but not quite overwhelmed and stressed. I wonder if there is a way in which we can balance our plate to realize, yes everything needs to be done, but none in replacement of rejuvinating ourselves with things we enjoy, in my case exercise, sleep, choosing that movie on Thursday night rather than a few pages of reading. But even when we choose those other things, we can still be motivated by the stress of having a list of things to do...
Oh it's a cycle I suppose...
I just hope the cycle for me doesn't lead to the numerous horrible things Erin mentioned...But then again, as was so discussed in my hall bathroom late last night, it seems everything these days causes cancer, heart disease, or something else to go wrong, may as well live life to the fullest so your excuse won't be just one thing, instead the excuse for problems will that you were truly living...

Name: Mer
Date: 2002-09-22 10:01:53
Link to this Comment: 2835

Sarah Tan, in response to your questions about prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, the only conclusion that I can come with is that prokaryotic cells cannot handle specialization. Given that there is all that "stuff," (I too used to know all the big names, but have now forgotten them) in eukaryotic cells, it seems to me at least reasonable that a cell with a neucleus is more able to diversify and can contain for info manuals on how to perform different tasks.

That being said, I can see how there may have been multi-prokaryotic organisms, but since living cell would be limited in its capacity as to what it actually can do, I would tend to think that most (if not all) or such organisms "evolved" to the point where they then had eukaryotic cells.

This may not work, but I think that as a theory, it might be something to ponder.

Name: Heather Pr
Date: 2002-09-22 10:10:25
Link to this Comment: 2836

maggie, don't beat yourself up about not sleeping, sometimes that can make it worse. actually, you probably have what i like to call "bryn mawr insomnia". hahahaha. the longer i've been here, the more i realize how taxing this school is not just on your mind, but on your body as well. this school instills a marvelous sense of guilt in most of us that can easily keep you up all night, no joke.

this also goes back to the stress thing as well i guess. stress is the number one cause of a lot of problems at here, sleeplessness being one of them. it's a sad day when you wake up from a two hour nap, only to be racked by instense guilt because you should have been working on you bio web paper... not that'd i'd know or anything... i personally like the mantra "this too shall pass" or another favorite is "nothing lasts forever" (which i'm liking less, the closer i get to being a senior... proving that i indeed do still like this place). So, maybe just realizing that Bryn Mawr turns us all into a bunch of guilty, stressed-out, sleep-deprived masochits could all help us get a little more perspective on what we're doing, and maybe make us worry a little less about catching some sleep.

Name: melissa
Date: 2002-09-22 10:25:03
Link to this Comment: 2837

We all are categorizing based on concepts that we have been taught. The question is can we remove ourselves from these well-learned lessons to learn that perhaps our categories are all wrong. Scientists continue using the same guidelines for centuries on end until they find a huge contradiction. Why is it that the small contradictions are not given more attention instead of being placed in a whole new category or instead of being the ever so popular exception to the rule? One day we may discover that trees and fungi are more alike than we think then we will have to rewrite the biology books.

Name: Elizabeth
Date: 2002-09-22 11:43:30
Link to this Comment: 2839

It's difficult to think that maybe we could come up for definitive, unquestionable categories for every living thing. The nature of life is diversity, which makes it impossible to pigeonhole every plant and animal into a neat category. While this is frustrating for those in a biology class, that diversity is also what makes the study of life interesting.

clumpy diversity
Name: Amanda Mac
Date: 2002-09-22 11:43:54
Link to this Comment: 2840

In response to Maggie's comment about drawing a distinction between what is natural and what is contrived and how we can assume that the categories we make are not just preconceptions based on a limited view of perception, I just want to say that I think it is important to note that while we are making assumptions on a limited view of perceptions, these perceptions do exist and therefore allow for a fair amount of credibility. While yes, there may be some aura that we cannot percieve that surrounds all living things, living things will still reproduce, sustain energy etc. So, if there was something about living creatures that was impercievable to us, that would just be another way of categorizing. It may be easier to understand, it may be easier to use, but it would not make our observations so far neccesarily false.

Depression and diabetes
Name: Michele
Date: 2002-09-22 11:50:41
Link to this Comment: 2841

I also just wanted to comment on depression. I think it is strange how the "experiment" by Profesor Grobstein was prooved because everyone truthfully everyone should have raised their hands. At one point in everyone's life, they will suffer of be affected by depression. Also, it is so common nowadays that I'm guessing everyone knows at least one person with depression. It is interesting how powerful social implications are in society.

Also, I was wondering if diabetes and depression could have any links? I know someone with diabetes and whenever they don't eat at normal scheduled time, they get extremely moody. I know it is due to their blood sugar, but I wonder what causes the abrupt moodiness and extreme change in personality?

sleep at bryn mawr
Name: sarah fray
Date: 2002-09-22 11:56:59
Link to this Comment: 2842

This may be my own weird affliction, but I'll throw it out to you guys anyway... I sometimes find that I sleep less at bryn mawr or find it harder t relax because there really is no seperation between work/social space and relax/sleep space at school. I mean, when you go to bed, your work is sitting a couple feet away from you. I do readings in my bed, write papers, etc. I think that is one of the reasons being at school is so taxing, because you never leave the realm of school. Its an omnipresence. anyway, I've read articles that say it is imortant to cosider the use of certain spaces and rooms wthin a house becase if you assocate a spae wit a certain activity, work that stresses you out or socilizing that hypes you up, then it will be harder to sleep in those areas....

Ramblin' Man
Name: Will
Date: 2002-09-22 15:13:50
Link to this Comment: 2845

I was really interested by someone's comment about how maybe humans are little cells to some larger organism. I immediately thought about what I posted last week about the Gaia Principle. Imagine if humans were the cells of the Earth, or even something smaller like the mitochondria or ribosomes. It's very easy, as this forum has proven, to think about how endless our universe is. Sometimes I feel the need to ground myself though, and focus on the more relative things in biology and how they connect to me. So this week's posting for me will consider something that happened to my cousin this past week. Apparently he had been having chest pains and trouble breathing so they took him to the hospital and found that one of his lungs was 10% collapsed. He's fine now, recovering quickly. However, it got me thinking: "What makes a lung suddenly collapse?" and "How does it 'reinflate'?". It makes me think about the wonder that is the human body. We are so evolutionarily (real word?) adapted that the smallest decrease in lung size leads to discomfort and pain, and further collapsing can kill a person. If lungs collapsed more frequently, would natural selection create humans with larger lungs, or more elastic lungs? And the fact that it only takes a couple of days of R&R for the lung to return to its normal size is astounding. There is so much going on in our bodies, semiautonomously (yeah science words), that hold our life in such delicate balance. Some things make me wonder why we aren't more durable, and then others make me realize just how tough our bodies are.

Francis Bacon
Name: Chelsea
Date: 2002-09-22 15:16:52
Link to this Comment: 2846

This week I've been seeing some major connections b/t two classes I didn't even think were related: 17th Century Intellectual History and Biology. In 17th C. (take it if you're interested ... it's a schlep to UPenn, but it's a really cool class), we've been reading Francis Bacon's Novum Organum. In it, Bacon talks a great deal about ideas about science that are actually a lot like ideas that we've discussed in our bio class. He discusses the importance of observation and inductive reasoning over accepting the word of established authorities, and he seems to believe that though the scientific approaches he advocates can yield strong evidence that something is likely true, they can't establish definitive "truth."

Name: Carrie
Date: 2002-09-22 17:18:56
Link to this Comment: 2847

Michele's completely right about the stigma surrounding depression, and mental illness in general. We're all perfectly comfortable with treating emotional imbalances as legitimate illness when it involves another party, but rarely comfortable claiming ourselves as sufferers. And, I count myself as guilty of the same prejudice as well. Part of me cannot rationalize that "depression" truly exists, that it's a legitimate chemical disorder. Maybe that's just the natural frame of mind for some people. Maybe it's indulgence.

Of course, then there are the people, the friends and family members who serve as proof against that justification.

But...after echoing her comments, what I actually wanted to pose was a question regarding treatment. Do we treat depression and anxiety disorders with pills (the dreaded SSRIs), like most Western medicinal practices? Or do we solve the problem with a more holistic approach, involving counseling and exercise, for example? Personally, I'm wary of the pills. Certainly, they can serve as a crutch and ultimately be discarded once the depression has run its course. But they also have the potential to be abused (then again, what doesn't?). People can become too dependent upon them; I've seen it happen to friends, watched the dosages get higher and higher and then the prescriptions change. And, besides, isn't it stronger to solve these problems on your own, without the aid of medication? To become more content through self-reflection and diligence rather than with a pill? But, perhaps others need the catalyst that the medicene is.

Clearly, I'm rambling. And the answer regarding treatment depends solely on the individual, as well. But, it is slightly interesting to note that perhaps my bias against medication stems from the same biases we've been discussing and that Prof. Grobstein observed.

treating depression with a pill
Name: Diana La F
Date: 2002-09-22 18:32:28
Link to this Comment: 2848

Ok, I seem to be posting a lot this week, but this is something I have a very strong opinion about (like there's something I don't have a strong opinion about...)

I know someone who goes to a very large college. This person is someone I am very close to, have been for years. Due to whatever reasons, they became depressed and basically had a breakdown before winter break. Due to the size of the school, and the time of the year, the counselor they went to gave them a perscription fo Zoloft, which is an anti-depressant. Now, all this I can understand. It's a quick way to get them through the crazy finals time, when many people are in need of counselors and so my friend could not get the treatment they needed.

My problem: They never stopped taking the anti-depressant.

For six months this person took this anti-depressant, without any form of counseling except to get the perscription filled yet again. They became a different person, had mood swings to the two exremes of the spectrum. And yet, they didn't know why they were taking these pills, what was causing their problems.

I've known some other people who went on anti-depressants, but they needed it. They went through years of therapy, trying everything other than changing their body chemistry to heal their mind as well as they could so they could function. The point is that anti-depressants are being given out like a miracle drug. I've even heard of people taking them because they might lower risks of breast cancer or something like that. DOES NO ONE CARE THAT THEY ARE CHANGING THEIR BODY CHEMISTRY, THAT THEIR BRAIN IS SUFFERING FOR THIS?!?!?! An anti-depressant changes the chemicals that work with your brain. Some people biologically need these pills, but the only real way to find this out is to go through years of therapy and rule out every other option. I think it's disgusting that anti-depressants are being given out so frivilously by people who should know better. Our minds are complex areas that can only be understood by the person who owns it. Everyone's is different, everyone has different factors effecting it. And thus, what is good for one person is not necessarily good for another. Anti-depressants, and most drugs also, should be a last resort if at all possible or there may be some horrible consequences to face.

melon mania
Name: Brie
Date: 2002-09-22 19:27:56
Link to this Comment: 2850

Wednesday morning at breakfast, I was discussing the benefits of canteloupe with my teammates. We were complimenting the dining hall's selection that morning, when suddenly one person yelled out, "That's not a canteloupe! That's a musk melon!" We were all a little taken aback, but I decided to do some research to find out where the discrepancy originates. This issue makes me think about our classification on Planet Courtyard. We might be calling a certain plant grass, when it has a very specific and different name. Classification is important to know what's what. So, I want to know exactly what I was eating Wednesday morning!
I searched for musk melon on the web, and came up with a historical answer to my question. Apparently, both musk melons and canteloupes are members of the Cantelupensis group of melons. However, in historical usage the musk melon generally refers to the very thin skinned, often netted group of melons, of which the nutmeg would be a member.
The canteloupes are named for Cantelupa, a papal estate outside of Rome where this type of melon was first introduced from Armenia in the 15th century. These melons have a very thick, sometimes warted rind. By the beginning of the 19th century these types of melons went by the name of Rock melons, again, referring to the very thick rind. You can still find a canteloupe call Black Rock that falls in this group as well a number of other types. The best known canteloupe today is probably the Charentais.
The Nutmeg melon is a green fleshed, netted melon that is first listed in this country by Bernard McMahon in 1804 and, according to Peter Henderson in Gardening for Profit (1867), is still the premium melon for home use in this country at that time.
There is a lot more to know about a simple 'canteloupe' than I ever expected. Now, what does this mean I ate on Wednesday morning? I'm still not sure! Science really does demand constant questions! Napkin Note anyone?
(The above information is from

musk melon
Name: Diana La F
Date: 2002-09-22 20:32:08
Link to this Comment: 2851 anyone else a little disturbed that we're taking the time to research melons? I mean, it's interesting and I feel enlightened, but...we're researching melons...and finding it interesting...and I thought I was crazy for posting what I did in the begining of the week. Now, I know I'm getting crazier...because I actually liked the melon information...

Name: Laura Silv
Date: 2002-09-23 00:54:56
Link to this Comment: 2854

Wow, I feel so dead this week! I haven't had the time to post yet and now I feel all lost! About the excercise thing, I know how you mean where it simply improves all the areas of your life - I find that, after excersising, I can study harder (hah hah, what a laugh) and sleep better, I'm more alert and everything just seems so much ... better!

I hate it when people, especially girls (not so much at this school, but in other places) feel like they have to loose weight and be stick-insects, to use Bridget Jones-terms, in order to feel even remotely attractive. So they starve themselves and do these crazy excercise regimes so they can get down to 115 pounds. Does that strike anyone else as crazy? I knew a girl in high school who went on a 1200 calories-a-day diet, and after two weeks she looked, in lay-men's terms, like shit. I mean, don't you need like 2,000 calories a day just to survive? That, to me, is just insane.

Just my thoughts ...

Name: Jen
Date: 2002-09-23 10:33:07
Link to this Comment: 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.

Stressed Out
Name: Anastasia
Date: 2002-09-23 10:41:53
Link to this Comment: 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!

More insainity
Name: Diana La F
Date: 2002-09-23 12:57:35
Link to this Comment: 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?

BANG!!! or should I say *pop*
Name: Chelsea
Date: 2002-09-23 13:41:04
Link to this Comment: 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 Fray
Date: 2002-09-23 17:24:53
Link to this Comment: 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
Link to this Comment: 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...

infinity ... and beyond?
Name: Laura Bang
Date: 2002-09-24 10:52:24
Link to this Comment: 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.

A (in)Finite Universe/stress
Name: Laura Silv
Date: 2002-09-24 15:08:13
Link to this Comment: 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.

Stress at Bryn Mawr
Name: Elizabeth
Date: 2002-09-24 18:29:18
Link to this Comment: 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.

stress cont'd
Name: rosie
Date: 2002-09-25 19:59:32
Link to this Comment: 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 Sull
Date: 2002-09-26 00:22:43
Link to this Comment: 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.

good better bestest theory
Name: Bill Nye t
Date: 2002-09-26 02:27:08
Link to this Comment: 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.

Will's Ramblings and Such
Name: Mippi
Date: 2002-09-26 13:13:16
Link to this Comment: 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?

interdisciplinary comments
Name: Brie Farle
Date: 2002-09-26 18:58:33
Link to this Comment: 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!

Movement of the continents, planets, etc.
Name: Brenda Zer
Date: 2002-09-26 20:00:12
Link to this Comment: 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.

The Neverending Story
Name: Huggies
Date: 2002-09-26 23:31:58
Link to this Comment: 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:)

A 10-year-old ponders life
Name: Adrienne W
Date: 2002-09-27 00:23:46
Link to this Comment: 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 ba
Date: 2002-09-27 16:26:58
Link to this Comment: 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?

Date: 2002-09-27 16:52:45
Link to this Comment: 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.

Name: ddimuro@br
Date: 2002-09-27 16:54:58
Link to this Comment: 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.

Sunnless planet
Name: amanda mac
Date: 2002-09-27 18:12:50
Link to this Comment: 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
Date: 2002-09-28 00:41:21
Link to this Comment: 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)?

Sun Explosion and Evolution
Name: Katie
Date: 2002-09-28 12:45:47
Link to this Comment: 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!

Continental Drift
Name: Arlo Weil
Date: 2002-09-28 14:57:11
Link to this Comment: 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 Adle
Date: 2002-09-28 23:52:12
Link to this Comment: 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...?

The choice of the college generation
Name: Heather Pr
Date: 2002-09-29 10:07:40
Link to this Comment: 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
Date: 2002-09-29 11:04:10
Link to this Comment: 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.

Are fish better than bugs?
Name: Mer
Date: 2002-09-29 11:22:18
Link to this Comment: 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
Date: 2002-09-29 11:33:47
Link to this Comment: 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?

ways of seeing in outer space
Name: Kate Amlin
Date: 2002-09-29 11:43:45
Link to this Comment: 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.

re: caffine
Name: Erin Myers
Date: 2002-09-29 11:57:38
Link to this Comment: 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.

Date: 2002-09-29 11:59:05
Link to this Comment: 2986

oops I spelled caffeine wrong a zillion times up there

Name: Laura Silv
Date: 2002-09-29 18:14:10
Link to this Comment: 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!

West Nile Spraying
Name: Chelsea W.
Date: 2002-09-29 19:22:26
Link to this Comment: 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
Link to this Comment: 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?

Name: Diana Fern
Date: 2002-10-01 15:36:32
Link to this Comment: 3074

The lab this week got me to thinking how our everyday actions are dictated by the laws of science. For example the amount of movment of tiny beads in this weeks lab, were moving a certain amount in regards to scale. I wonder how humans are effected by movment in nature.

Name: Diana La F
Date: 2002-10-01 18:56:38
Link to this Comment: 3078

So here I am, doing a regular check of the forum to help me procrastinate from writing my French paper...and what do I see? Hardly anyone's posted so far. I know I'm guilty of it too, mainly because I've been so tired. I seriously don't think it's sleep deprivation either, I get a good amount of sleep. I think it's the stress. It causes an unending cycle. When you're stressed your body needs more sleep, but you can't get more sleep cause of all the things that are causing you stress. The solution? I say we all become hermits on a mountain somewhere...well, that's what I want to do right now. I guess we really should just ride the tide till it all passes.

Name: Anastasia
Date: 2002-10-01 23:54:50
Link to this Comment: 3080

I am still a little confused on the whole "better" subject. I don't understand how some species are not "better" than others. I mean, a dog could potentially outlive some bacteria, so why is it not considered better than the bacteria? It managed to survive better in its environment so why isn't it considered better? And when we say better, what do we really mean? Is better more efficient? Also I think that this is important when comparing things and talking about biology. Doesn't this play a role in our classifications of species? I think many of us classify species according to how simple or complex they may be. We also seem to deem the more complex species "better" than the simpler ones. Why is this bad? Maybe someone could help me out a little.

Name: Sarah Tan
Date: 2002-10-03 14:23:56
Link to this Comment: 3101

Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one who has had the forum simply slip my mind until this late in the week. The web paper caused enough grief for me that I wanted to take a break from bio for a few days. Having said that, I didn't have any real inspiration for a post, so I went again to the NY Times website and found an article about a new theory of language development in children. This is almost a perfect way that biology actually relates to my major, linguistics. Even though I'm not quite so interested in language acquisition, I always think it's interesting to keep up on the newest studies and so-called "truths."

There's been a heated disucssion for the past four decades or so between the two main camps of linguists, one of which insists that children acquire language as they grow and the brain picks it up, and the other of which insists that the basics of language (universal grammar) are hardwired into the brains of children at birth, and all they need to do is figure out which specific rules apply for the particular language they are immersed in. Both sides are convinced that they are right, but as far as I know, there hasn't been clear evidence that either is right or wrong. In a situation like this, my preferred method is simply to watch both sides argue while not being sucked into either one and wait another few decades for a new "truth" to emerge.

Name: Adrienne W
Date: 2002-10-03 23:39:59
Link to this Comment: 3109

I've been thinking about the idea that humans didn't evolve in a clearly sequential order. Maybe this is a crazy idea, but doesn't that mean there could be slightly different types of humans around right now? It might be possible that there some humans who have slightly bigger brains than others. After all, life is a series of changes. Humans may be changing as we speak. Just a thought....What do other people think of this?

Name: Margaret H
Date: 2002-10-04 01:30:27
Link to this Comment: 3113

After our discussions on evolution, I've been musing over the Biblical Creation aspect. I never really directly compared the two or thought to myself, which one makes more sense. In high school, we skirted the issue as not to ignite a controversey - leaving everyone a little less educated on the development behind the human species.

When Prof. Grobstein mentioned that anywhere from 80- 95% of the living organisms died 65 million years ago, I thought to myself, when did Adam and Eve exist? Were they before the dinosaurs? Did they come later? How do people really link science and religion? I think my particular hang up isn't religion per se, but the Biblical teachings. I think religion is the aknowledgement and reverence of some higher form of being. The Bible itself has a lot of stories that science has been able to help prove, or in some cases, disprove.

In all of this musing, I find myself coming back to something we learned in the first week of class (or maybe the second), that Science doesn't have a monopoly on truth - they find what they believe is accurate and possibly true to the best of their knowledge. The faithful do that as well. To believers everywhere, they can believe in the Bible or Qu'ran or Torah or any spiritual text and accept it as truth. There are few concrete answers for me; I must find some sort of blanace between science and faith myself.

Bilingual children must be geniuses
Name: Maggie
Date: 2002-10-04 08:49:38
Link to this Comment: 3116

Sarah was talking about language, which reminded me about something that has interested me for awhile. Last year I talked many of my friends who were raised bilingually, but none of them could help me. How do children who are raised bilingually distinguish one language from the other? I have heard of instances where one parent will only ever speak to the child in, say, French, and the other parent will only ever speak in English. So the child then knows the difference between their mother's language and their father's language. But what happens if the child overhears one of the parents speaking the 'wrong' language to someone else? Or to each other? A couple of my friends weren't raised that way anyhow, everyone just spoke both languages. Maybe at home it is fine to mix Chinese and Spanish together, but what happens when the child goes to school and speaks in Spanish to her Chinese teachers? Or speaks in both? How does the child know, even if she has a definitive line between the two languages, which language to speak outside of the house? I'm thinking this sounds like a good paper topic...

Name: roseanne m
Date: 2002-10-04 16:23:03
Link to this Comment: 3123

i still think of times when these gigantic animals were roaming the earth, and suddenly 80=90% of all organisms alive disappear. I heard that meteorites that could wipe out most of the world's existance come periodically, and the next one is expected to come soon. i dont know how soon, but thats what i remember reading somewhere. if, at this moment, 80-90% of the organisms on the planet were extinguished, what would those 80-90% be? and what would the surviving 10-20% be? i'm assuming human beings would be 'one of the 80-90%' that would die? just curious- so could we say that the organisms that survive as 'better' than those organisms that couldn't? whats the deal?

Name: kathryn ba
Date: 2002-10-05 12:17:35
Link to this Comment: 3131

I thought Adrienne's comment that since humans don't evolve in a clearly sequential order, there is the possiblitly that different types of humans exist right now, was interesting. I don't know for sure, but I doubt that humans have exactly the same brain size. In that case, I wonder what the range of human brain size is. Where do scientists collect data to measure brain size? Do they measure human brains from different regions or ethnicities? I can also see how this topic could lead to extreme prejudice .... it might lead some people to say, "this group has bigger brains than that group, therefore the first group must be "better" (whatever "better" means). If significant differences in brain size do exist, I hope that the scientific community would use caution when revealing their data in order to avoid such a close-minded attitude.

Random ramblings...
Name: Laura Bang
Date: 2002-10-05 13:16:37
Link to this Comment: 3132

     Wow, the forum is pretty quiet this week. I'm guessing that people are drained from the web paper and other midterm stuff....


     I thought that what we talked about on Friday was very interesting -- about how everything, living or not, is made up of atoms, which aren't alive. So why are we alive? I don't understand why we are alive and, say, a rock isn't alive. What determines what gets to be alive since it's not the atoms? I also find it interesting that carbon is such a large part of being alive, and yet there's so little carbon in the universe. Where did all the carbon come from? And why did it just come to Earth? Why was Earth the only planet to be blessed with life? What if some carbon explosion had occurred on another planet as well as Earth -- how would our lives be different if one of our neighboring planets harbored as diverse a life system as Earth's? But that didn't happen, and I am really curious as to why -- why is Earth the only planet to bear life?

     Just something to think about...

more better
Name: Will Carro
Date: 2002-10-05 14:24:40
Link to this Comment: 3133

The idea of a better organism is still alive, and it's one of the things I'm most interested in or at least have the most to talk about so here I go again. Anastasia raised some good points in her questions. The one that I don't have a very good response to is the one about life span. I suppose that longer living organism could be considered better, but it depends on their purpose. I think in the big bio picture life span has no relevance to an organism, just as long as the organism can reproduce. Anastasia also said that the dog survived better in its environment than the bacteria, but I don't see how that's the case. They live in completely different environments and have different ways of excelling in those environments. A dog certainly doesn't belong in my intestine, whereas the E. coli in there are doing a wonderful job. There's really no way to compare different species who live in various environments and who perform various functions. This addresses the issue of complexity. There are many environments where complexity is not beneficial, such as for E. coli. If E. coli were to become complex, their size would expand (complexity requires differentiated cells, and many of them) and would no longer fit in my intestine and therefore be unable to perform their function in their environment. Then Kathryn raised an interesting quetion about brain size. I think it's much easier (and actually possible) to say some humans are better if their brain is bigger. Humans all have the same function in pretty much the same environment. If I remember correctly, Mongol is a derogative term used for people with pronounced foreheads and other distinguishing characteristics, stemming from the Mongolians of Genghis Khan fame. This is one group of different humans that relates to the idea that has been brought up this week in forum. Interesting stuff. And I think race is an obvious difference that may not be similar to brain size as a different breed of human, but that's because skin color is something that's more necessary to adapt in humans' various environment, whereas brain size doesn't need to vary much throughout the world.

Name: Elizabeth
Date: 2002-10-05 14:28:35
Link to this Comment: 3134

I can't answer any of Laura's questions, but they are similar to thoughts I've had about the nature of life and wondering how we distinguish between alive and...not. I've found that not only do I make those distinctions between living and non-living matter, but also among certain forms of life. For example, even though I know that a potato is alive, I have a hard time thinking of it in the same way I think of animals. This may be because animals are more animated than plants. Or maybe it's the lack of (discernable) interaction betweeen potatos or other plants.

evolution and it's whereabouts
Name: heidi
Date: 2002-10-05 23:52:24
Link to this Comment: 3141

I have two thoughts to add to this week's forum. One goes back to the idea of evolution as raised by Will, and the other has to do with carbon atoms and Laura's point.
I was thinking about evolution and remembered that Prof. Grobstein was talking about how it changes toward greater complexity. Does this mean that we are changing as we live? It would of course be a minimal and insignificant change. What I'm trying to say is does the change occur in each new born child? How are they different from the parents? It's interesting though to think about evolution and what it means looking at each one of us in relation to our parents and grand parents and even people that lived centuries ago. Would their skull be shaped differently from ours? After what time period can one see the change in structure?
The other issue I wanted to comment on was Laura's suggestion about carbon and life. It made me think. Why is the earth the only planet blessed with life? Is it...? I like to think that it's not.

Steven Pinker
Name: stephanie
Date: 2002-10-06 08:25:24
Link to this Comment: 3143

In the Thurs, Oct. 3 edition of USA Today's 'Life' section was an article about Steven Pinker,a psychologist and an MIT researcher who said that,

"The emotions and drives and ways of thinking and learning that are uniform across the human species are part of our inheritance."

Essentially, Pinker has reason to believe that humans, like many other animals, are born with human instincts which make us prone to certain behaviors. For example: waging war, boys being violent, belief in a higher being, gossip, girls playing with dolls, marriage, and even that men wanting multiple sex partners is innate because males who were most promiscuous historically had the greatest number of offspring. Most of our behaviors occurr not becuase we pick them up somewhere but because we are born with them, genetically. In other words, the "blank slate" idea is being tried here.

The idea that certain behaviors are, genetically, part of human nature, and that we even have a 'human nature,' is extremely interesting to me. I've always assumed that humans have changed themselves and their environment so dramatically that any kind of human nature wouldn't be able to exist. We've been going over the fact in class that humans have evolved so much and changed so much in such a short amount of time. And I mean, I've heard of dog and other animal instincts but attributed their existence to the fact that they haven't changed that much over time(relative to humans). But maybe, as humans, we really haven't changed that much either? It's certainly something to think about.

Name: Mer
Date: 2002-10-06 10:30:53
Link to this Comment: 3144

Ok, so I have read through the forum, and while there are some interesting debates going on, especially about whether or not one form of life is "better" than the other, I am very disturbed by the quote in Stephanie's post. To say that, "emotions are a part of our inheritance," makes no sense to me.

Animals (including humans) rely on natural instinct to protect themselves. Wild animals do not rationalize thier instinct; they follow it because that is what it is there for. Humans are still "wild" animals, no matter how much we try to "civilize" ourselves.

I think that humans have changed enormously over the span of our exhistence, especially when compared to other organisms. The ability to think on a "higher" level is one of the main characterstics that separate humans from other animals.

In the past five hundred years, the different philosophies by which people live have changes - it was once thought that black women were inferior to white people; women are just gaining (and in some cases still fighting for) thier rights of equality. If we assume that these philosophies are (even) in part because of our "natural instinct," by changing these philosophies over time, we are actually going against out instinct.

Name: Jodie
Date: 2002-10-06 10:47:50
Link to this Comment: 3145

Has anyone ever wondered why so many of us were OBSESSED with dinosaurs when we were little? I used to know almost every name of every dinosaur, and now I can only remember tyrannasaurus rex. A lot of people I know were obsessed with dinosaurs even before Jurassic Park was made into a movie...was anyone else?

So, since my dinosaur obsession was when I was younger, like perhaps second or third grade younger, there wasn't the huge database of the internet available for research. (I did, however, have this great book that had a cassette with it.) I searched for dinosaurs at first site to come up is A look at this site...and I quote, "Zoom Dinosaurs is a comprehensive on-line hypertext book about dinosaurs. It is designed for students of all ages and levels of comprehension. It has an easy-to-use structure that allows readers to start at a basic level on each topic, and then to progress to much more advanced information as desired, simply by clicking on links." That's pretty cool.

There was always this one dinosaur I liked the best. It had thumbs or digits closely resembling thumbs. I really have no idea what the name of this dinosaur was. Please, allow me to do some research...all right, now I remember. The dinosaur of the week (apparently) is the Iguanodon. "Iguanodon was a dinosaur that had a horny, toothless beak and tightly-packed cheek teeth. On each hand, Iguanodon had four fingers plus a conical thumb spike on each hand (that was perpendicular to the other fingers). The thumb spikes may have been used for defense or in obtaining food; it ranged from 2 to 6 inches long. Iguanodon had a flat, stiff tail and three-toed hind feet with hoof-like claws. Its legs were much larger than its arms. Iguanodon averaged about 30 feet long (9.3 m), 16 feet tall (5 m), 9 ft (2.7 m) tall at the hips, and may have weighed 4 to 5 tons." (thanks

Basically I wanted to make the point that dinosaurs are intersting, and I was curious about the fact that so many of us read about and know about dinosaurs as children but then forget all about them when we get older.

Name: Heather
Date: 2002-10-06 11:15:21
Link to this Comment: 3146

Well, when it comes to the whole issue of "better" I don't have any really firm convictions, so for this forum, I'm staying as fas away as possible, thank you very much.

But I was looking around the webpaper and saw a couple interesting ones. The one that really caught my eye was Christine's paper on trepedation (sorry if I spelled that wrong), it was really interesting. The idea that anyone would drill a hole in their head just for a "high" is absolutely insane! ick. I can understand people doing it thousands of years ago, because they did a lot of things that would make a modern doctor cry, but the idea of people doing it today is just messed up!

pro erdman eggs
Name: Brie Farle
Date: 2002-10-06 11:47:48
Link to this Comment: 3148

I wonder how many of you have just returned from (or are on the way to) brunch. Did you have your fair share of eggs??? As a member of the crew team, I am a frequent face in the dining halls during breakfast. If you ask the team what the number one food is in Erdman, you will hear a resounding "EGGS!" Looking out for the well being of myself and my team, I decided that instead of continuing to debate about who's not better and what they're made of, I'd find out if all the eggs the crew team consumes is a good thing.
I consulted an article on the web, at This site is pro-egg. ''The egg has been unfairly blamed as a bad food and as the reason why seemingly everybody has high cholesterol,'' said Elizabeth Ward, nutrition counselor at the Harvard Community Health Plan in Boston. ''Somehow people don't worry as much about eating ice cream or slathering cheese on a burger, but there is huge concern about a teeny-tiny egg.'' I think this point is valid. I have actually seen people eating ice cream at Sunday brunch in Erdman, glaring at the eggs like they are the enemy.
''The egg is the gold standard,'' said Gail Frank, professor of nutrition at California State University-Long Beach. The white is nature's highest-quality protein, she says: It has a complete set of essential amino acids for the body. The yolk has all other nutrients, along with about 6 grams of fat."
My concern about eggs primarily stems from a belief that if you eat eggs, you'll have high cholesterol. However, the article points out that this is not the case. According to this article, a review of previous studies over the last 28 years showed that dietary cholesterol has a minimal effect on blood cholesterol levels. It was concluded that consumption of dietary cholesterol is associated with only about 20 percent of any increase in blood serum totals and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is the kind that clogs arteries.
What does it all mean? Go eat your eggs! That daily omelet bar is a great addition to Erdman, and will keep you healthy! However, the article concludes with an important statement. "It may be less the number of eggs in a diet and more the method of preparation." You must be wary about how you consume your eggs. If you make an omelet, use a lot of butter, throw in two handfuls of cheese, some bacon bits, a little ham, and smother ketchup all over it, your additives may outweigh all of the pure benefits of the egg. If this is your favorite breakfast, you might want to wean yourself off of whole eggs, and switch to egg whites to attempt to balance the saturated fat content of your meal! Just be smart about it, and if you need ideas about egg preparations, ask the women in Erdman- especially the 20 sweaty rowers who couldn't be more excited about eggs!

Name: Kate Amlin
Date: 2002-10-06 11:51:07
Link to this Comment: 3149

Looking at some of the previous posts this week and remembering the pictures of brain sizes for various animals that we saw in class on Friday -- I think it is important to keep in mind that "bigger" does not mean better. Yes, humans do have large brains in comparison to their bodies. But are we really the "most intelligent" living organisms? All evidence to prove this would seem rather biased since humans seem to be the only animals that research the subject. In addition, the link between larger brains and smarter humans has not been established. If we can not definitively qualify that more intelligent individuals have larger brains then why do we assert that having a large brain is preferable?

Game of Life
Name: Katie
Date: 2002-10-06 12:00:07
Link to this Comment: 3150

So I am really interested in the Game of Life that we looked at on Friday. The "assembly rules" are arbitrary, but I assume it would still yeild some sort of order even with different rules.
But I guess my random question now is that Game of Life reached a certain point when it didn't change any more. It reached that "perfect" stage or complete point. So is that how life is proceeding now? Is there a time when the process of life and trying out new things will stop because it has found that final order? That would be assuming that there is a final order to reach...So where exactly is this all going and what will we become? I sometimes wonder if our quest into science is just to figure out the answers to these questions, not really to understand what is here right now, but to peer into the future and quell our fears of the unknown and what is coming and how it will all change...

Human Evolution
Name: Chelsea
Date: 2002-10-06 15:59:26
Link to this Comment: 3156

Talking about evolution makes me wonder about human evolution in the future and the impact of modern medicine, etc. on "survival of the fittest" (though obviously it's much better to make it so that more people can survive, this issue still seems like an interesting thing to think about in a speculative sense). Actually, in many ways you could make the argument that what conditions humans need to be adapted to has simply changed -- with modern medicine in some sense being one of the resources of our current environment.

The Game of Life
Name: Laura Silv
Date: 2002-10-06 17:30:33
Link to this Comment: 3162

I noticed Katie's comment on how life would reach the "perfect" stage, and I'm just thinking, how is this perfect? In the Game of Life that we were all so amused by on Friday, Life would reach an equilibrium with the environment to where life was sustained and everything was just peachy, but I think we all know that Life is not just peachy. There's a hole in the ozone layer. Landfills are overflowing. Pollution is simply absurd. We are using up all of the earth's natural resources faster than the earth can produce them, we use and abuse until there's nothing left and then we move. How is this an equilibrium? No other living creature on earth abuses what the world has to offer in this manner. There's a line to this affect in 'The Matrix' (I had to watch it for a class - really!), that the only other organism on the planet that acts like this is a virus. Does this point have some validity, or am I just silly?

Don't be afraid to go with the silly option - it's what I'm leaning towards myself.

See you all in class tomorrow!

Smallpox Vaccine
Name: diana dimu
Date: 2002-10-06 20:46:03
Link to this Comment: 3175

Sorry for the delay, I'm a little slow to the forum this week. I wanted to talk a bit about an article I read in the NY times today that has to do with releasing a smallpox vaccine to the general public in the future.

Many of the top public health officials stated today that they were in favor of releasing a smallpox vaccine to the general public but not until it is administered to up to 10 million health care workers, and after the vaccine is licensed for general use. This is not likely to happen until 2004. The idea behind this is to first start offering the vaccine to health care and emergency workers facing the greatest risk of handling a smallpox case. Under one plan, health officials would start by offering vaccinations to about 500,000 workers who would be most at risk of encountering any smallpox cases in hospitals. Another option would be to consider expanding the 500,000 vaccinations to all the nation's estimated 10 million health care and emergency workers.

A panel, known as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, rejected a proposal to offer smallpox vaccinations to the general public. It recommended limiting vaccinations to health care and emergency workers who were likely to be "first responders" to a bioterror attack. The panel's chairman estimated 15,000 people would be inoculated. A series of meetings were then begun with state health officials, doctors and hospital executives. Those meetings led them to decide that they should present president Bush with options to expand vaccinations to all health professionals and law enforcement people, and eventually to all Americans who want the vaccine.

At a news conference, officials also announced that one million doses of smallpox vaccine will be provided to the military.The government halted routine vaccinations in 1972 as the disease was being errased from the world. But the terrorism attacks last year and the possibility that Iraq or other hostile nations might have the virus have caused health officials to consider a new battle against the disease.

When the vaccine was used, "life-threatening complications" occurred at a rate of 15 per million among those who received their first smallpox vaccination, and the number included about one to two deaths. The vaccine can also cause many non-life-threatening complications such as blindness.
Thirty to 50 million Americans might be disqualified from getting the vaccine because their immune systems have been weakened by cancer, AIDS or other diseases, or because they have two common skin conditions, eczema and atopic dermatitis, which increase the risk of complications.

Although it will be a very long time before a vaccination for the general public will be approved or even begin being tested or distributed, there may be a smallpox vaccine for health care workers in the not too distant future. My questions for the forum then is if there are still so many risks associated with the vaccine, won't giving it to health care workers increase the risk of it being given to patients? What if the vaccine causes mass illness or problems among a huge percentage of health care workers? Then this will also decrease the amount of healthy working health care workers. It's pretty scary to think of the risks involved. I am in favor of preventing health and emergency care workers from the risks of contracting smallpox but it seems like there is still much research to be done before distributing the vaccine to them should be considered, let alone to the general public.

AIDS vaccine?
Date: 2002-10-06 21:25:19
Link to this Comment: 3177

Michele Doughty

Speaking of vaccines, I read an article called "AIDS and the profit factor" ( that discusses pharmaceutical companies that have developed anti-retroviral drugs to help keep HIV/AIDS sufferers alive. The price is discounted for developing countries by 90% of what they charge in the U.S. Essentially, these companies charge developed countries at profitable rates in order to provide the drugs to developing countries at discounted or exact production cost. Is this fair to HIV/AIDS patients in developed countries such as the U.S. and Europe? Aren't they assuming that these patients have the money to afford the drugs at expensive rates?

Various developing countries such as India and Brazil have fought to provide these antiretroviral drugs for free by creating generic brands that are cheaper to make. For instance, in Brazil there are 100,000 people with HIV or AIDS who receive antiretroviral drugs free of charge. Some pharmecuetical companies have recently sued developing countries on their decisions to import generic drugs to create their own generics at cheaper rates.

The debate is complicated as pharmaceutical companies (non-generic type) argue that they, unlike generic companies, invest money into research and development. GlaxoSmithKline says it spends 13-14 percent of its profits on research and development each year. They are one of two major pharmaceutical companies with a vaccine for AIDS in the clinic. They argue that without any profits, they will be unable to continue research and development for the real solution to the problem. Is it fair to charge patients in developed countries more for drugs in order for them to be provided for free/cheaper for patients in developing countries? Should generic companies be closed since they do not do research for the real solution of the disease? Can we really put a price on the value of life or death?

Date: 2002-10-08 15:28:01
Link to this Comment: 3210

Margot Rhyu, Sarah Tan

Change in catalase concentration--Experimanet #3 Trial A

For trial 1, the control, our volume of oxygem as measured every 15 seconds is as follows 0,0,0,0,.20.4,.6,.9,1.2,1.5,1.8,2.0,2.2,2.4,2.6,2.8,3.0,3.1,3.2,3.4,3.5,3.6,3.75,3.9,4.0,4.1,4.2,4.25,4.4,4.4,4.45,4.5,4.5,4.5
The reaction rate from 2 minutes to 6 minutes is 0.75 oxygen per minute.

In trial 2, we used 0.5 cc of the catalase in the experimental. Our volume of oxygen as measured every 15 seconds is as follows
The reaction rate from 2 minutes to 6 is 0.295 oxygen per minute.

In trial 3, using the same amount of catalase as trial 2, our volume of oxygen as measured every 15 seconds is as follows
The reaction rate from 2 minutes to 6 is 0.225 oxygen per minute.

As you can tell, the last two trials took a longer amount of time to plateau. Since the only difference between trials 2 and 3 from trial 1 is the amount of catalase, we can conclude that this is the factor in determining the speed of a chemical reaction. We then gathered that the less amount of catalase, the slower the reaction rate.

Name: Chelsea:)
Date: 2002-10-08 19:46:39
Link to this Comment: 3217

Hey everybody! I was thinking about our talk in class yesterday, and to the person who suggested love as an example of human nature, I don't think that's cheesy at all- I think it's a very valid point. Maybe not everyone feels love in the same way, or craves the same kind of love, but I think on some basic level the vast majority of people feel a need to connect to another person. I know that, personally, I get awfully lonely when I'm not around people who I love, or who (I think, at least:) love me. And isn't it funny that we want certain people to love us, and anyone else just isn't quite the same? Not necessarily worse or bad in anyway, just different. I don't just mean romantic love; it happens between friends as well, it happens in families- we want to be accepted and loved for who were are, but sometimes the love of thousands won't make up the lack of the love of one.

Oh, and an interesting article in the Inquirer. today, especially as we were talking about human nature:

Class Discussion
Name: Anastasia
Date: 2002-10-08 22:29:50
Link to this Comment: 3221

Chelsea, I am the one who brought up the whole love issue and I am so glad that you commented on it. I think there is such a thing as human nature. I mean, doesn't every type of species have characteristics specific to them or actions that are specific to them? Isn't that considered the nature of a species? All humans seem to need love and the connection with other human beings. It is this connection that often brings about reproduction and with out that our species can not survive. We are all brought up in different ways and have our own beliefs which influence how we react to certain situations, but this has nothing to do with human nature. Human nature is a constant, a similartiy among all human beings. It is a trait or characteristic that we all have and I think that many of the things we do involve human nature. The desire to succeed in life, or the desire to be unique is human nature. The things we see as success may be different but I think all human beings want to make something out of themselves. Human nature does exist.

human reaction/ a fever
Name: amanda mac
Date: 2002-10-09 01:17:51
Link to this Comment: 3223

In lab today, Will brought up the question Why happens to our bodies when we get a fever? Why do we get fevers when we are sick? After learning in lab that when enzyme reaction rates go up, temperature goes up as well. Therefore when we have a fever, it is due to the higher reaction rates of enzymes. Why then are the enzymes reacting faster? I am guessing that this is due to our bodies need to get the unhealthy bacteria out of our systems. For, it was also observed that when the reaction rates increased oxygen, or whatever the enzyme is catalyzing, stablizes quicker. Therefore, when we get a fever, it is our bodies reaction to assisting in getting the bad stuff out faster.

Name: kathryn ba
Date: 2002-10-09 12:38:40
Link to this Comment: 3224

I read the Inquirer article about attempting to profile the spree killer who has killed 6 people and injured 2 near DC. The author says, "Our need for closure can cause us to endow this method (psychological profiling) with magical properties, but it's based on human nature. Even the best of profiles may not tell us everything we want to know." Is the need for closure really part of "human nature" , and furthermore, does "human nature" really exist? I argue that the concept of human nature is our way to describe a similar pattern of behavior across a group of people. The need for closure, for example, is one such behavior that can be taught as a result of learned cultural preferences. This leads me to think that much of what is categorized as "human nature" is the result of learning. I am still not clear about "love"...can love be learned? I tend to think not, but I know that social interaction can be. Does social interaction lead to the feeling of love?

anti-human nature!
Name: Brie Farle
Date: 2002-10-09 13:13:09
Link to this Comment: 3225

Class discussion coincides with my Anthropology Class once again! We have been reading articles on the subject of human nature, and disucssing the theories of recording observations in a foreign society. It is agreed among many anthropologists that human nature is purely cultural. This confirms the idea that everything we do as humans is a result of the culture in which we have been raised. We all know that there are millions of general cross-cultural similarities, such as eating a meal, or training children to use some kind of waste facility, but if we were to examine at all phenomena exhibited by humans, we would notice distinct differences in the way people do things. This conflicts with the notion that there is something common and predictable called human nature. How does this account for instincts? Perhaps we are just so susceptible to our surroundings as infants and while growing up, that we are able to pick up on certain nuances, feelings, and fears. When we grow up, this conditioning seems so natural that we find it hard to assume we may have been born a blank slate. Although it is "unromantic," it's possible that the feelings of love are culturally constructed, as well. Thus, I am in favor of the concept that culture creates who we are, and that there is no such thing as the commonly referred to, "human nature." Maybe we could instead name it, "human culture saturation?!"

human nature
Name: Brenda Zer
Date: 2002-10-09 17:30:48
Link to this Comment: 3238

Well, although I am a firm believer that we (humans) are mostly created by the culture in which we are raised and live, I do think that there are some aspects of our lives which could be considered natural instinct. There are cases of people who have been left out in the wilderness, or in extreme isolation, for a period of time who have also developed some sense of being. I think that many facets of our lives (like the concept of what is 'love') are instinctual - but our various cultures allow them to be expressed in different ways. There must be some things that are inherited - someone didn't just wake up one morning and say: I think I'll create a learned society today!
And someone was talking earlier about serial killers - if the chemical balances in your brain are off, it can cause an individual to act strangely (but strange is only relative to what "normal" is considered). Unless you come from an entire family of killers, it's hardly likely that you 'learned' it anywhere --- I don't think that even television or video games can accomplish that! (although I do admit that they have some neurological and behavioral impacts)

Name: Kate Amlin
Date: 2002-10-09 20:02:08
Link to this Comment: 3239

During the mad rush to finish everything before fall break, I actually learned something about biology. Let me tell you, amazing things happen when you actually OPEN and READ the Biology text! I've been preparing the "Motions at Microscopic Scales" lab but had some initial trouble understanding the connection between diffusion and turgid or plasmolyzed cells. Luckily, Campbell and Reece were there to help me out: When cells are immersed in a hypotonic solution (like distilled water) water flows into the cells so that they become turgid. The opposite is true for plasmolysis. Cells doused in a hypertonic solution (like a 25% salt solution) lose water so they shrivel up and become plasmolyzed. Wow, maybe I should start opening the book more often...

Human Nature
Name: Diana La F
Date: 2002-10-09 22:43:41
Link to this Comment: 3240

When I was a senior in high school...oh, god, that was two years ago already?...I took government and politics. My teacher was fantastic, and we spent a lot of time on political philosophy and the different types of government that coincide with the different takes on what basic human nature is. Are they a clean slate? Are they basically bad or good? It's strange to think about really. I know many people who could be considered good who came from the same circumstances as (and are even related to) people who could be considered bad. So, is human nature generally good but corrupted by society or is it basically bad and kept in line by society? Probably a little of both. Society, I believe, makes us more "civilized" and forces us to gauge our reactions. So, instead of pure animal instinct we're forced to think on a larger scale about the effects of our actions. Society doesn't always pose a good model for us, though, and so it corrupts us.

Ok, enough of my rambling now. I'd be interested to hear other people's ideas on the subject.

Name: Laura Bang
Date: 2002-10-10 19:52:23
Link to this Comment: 3251

Personally, I believe in the so-called "human nature." But I also think that "human nature" is slightly different for each person, which is why we are all different, like snowflakes. My inclination is towards believing that humans are all basically good, but are corrupted by circumstances. But maybe I'm just a hopeless optimist.

"In spite of everything I still believe that people are good at heart." ~Anne Frank

On another note, a while ago people were writing about insomnia/lack of sleep and I found an interesting book on the subject of sleep. It's called Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress. I haven't read the book yet, but it sounds quite interesting. The premise of the story is that sometime in the future humans are able to genetically alter babies so that they don't need sleep. At all. Then there is a conflict between the "sleepers" and the "non-sleepers" because the "sleepers" are jealous of the extra 8+ hours each day that the "non-sleepers" have. Not having to sleep seems pretty cool now (especially during midterms), but I don't know if I would actually want to give up sleep. In giving up sleep, you would give up dreams too, and that would be sad.

Now we are off to wonderland,
   You and I, you and I,
Into the harbor of happy dreams,
Oh how misty and fair it seems,
   Rock, rock a-by;
Ah! no one but mama could understand
The way that leads to wonderland.
     ~ "The Way to Wonderland" by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Human Nature
Name: Katie Camp
Date: 2002-10-10 20:59:08
Link to this Comment: 3252

Once I did a presentation to a group of adults on the peace camps I do during the summer, working with high school students from places like South Africa, Israel/Palestine, Northern Ireland, and US on communication skills and diversity issues, etc to promote more peaceful communities. It's clear when I talk about my work and the experiences I've had that I believe in the innate nature of humans to be kind and good towards one another and as brought up by Anastasia, crave love and affection from others. One woman, a product of WWII and segregation issues in Denver, etc, though, approached me after my presentation and commented on how hopeless "our situation" is today. She told me that it's just so sad that the nature of humans is greed and survival of no one other than their person. She said, it's evident in small babies who cry out because they cry out when they are hungry and therefore are only trying to get something. My theory on this woman's thought is that it stems from experiencing time after time when the world has betrayed itself. I feel fortunate to view a baby's cry as something different and more similar to Anastasia's idea that we all, as humans, crave something like love, affection, and care from others and in turn want to reciprocate all of these feelings. A baby does not only cry when it is hungry, but also just to be held by the people it associates with safety and kindness and love. And it seems that maybe the idea of human nature might ring true in other species which show such established relationships between one another, like kittens and their mother and maybe even schools of fish that stay with one another. So is it human nature or something that is a common thread in life? I'm sure there are many species and animals I'm not looking at in my examples and ones that could "destroy" my idea, like in our lab gatherings...
But I'm the eternal optimist and I think it'd be nice if we had something like such nature to connect all of life together...

Human nature
Name: Laura
Date: 2002-10-10 22:45:37
Link to this Comment: 3255

I have a question - which one is stronger, instincts or nature?

I'm tired, I'm cold, I haven't eaten all day and all I want to do is sleep but not until I finish this lab report.

Have a wonderful break, everyone!!

bio and chem
Name: Catherine
Date: 2002-10-10 23:49:59
Link to this Comment: 3256

I was wondering, how much do biology and chemistry overlap, and so how much chemistry are we going to learn in this biology class?

Name: carrie
Date: 2002-10-11 13:03:21
Link to this Comment: 3257

on occasion, what's more interesting about this course is not the biology, but the method. we're learning a natural science through discussion and a lab session that i, for one, consider to be more play than toil. and we write lab reports in "the spirit of science" rather than the rote textbook fashion we hammered out in high school.

i don't know. i just think it's kinda nice. kinda great, actually. i wish that college on the whole was more in the spirit of education and not the spirit of schooling.

have a good break, y'all.

Name: diana dimu
Date: 2002-10-11 13:18:55
Link to this Comment: 3258

Last year my older sister went to an exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in NYC and after going told me she had read that all humans, no matter what race, ethnicity, or gender are 99.9% genetically the same. Siblings from the same parents are 99.95% the same. How crazy is that? I think it's crazy that humans who often feel they can be prejudiced against each other based on race, sex, class, etc. are actually more alike across the world then they think they are. In the same token, that last 0.01% creates so much diversity. And the small similarities between me and my sisters that I always wondered about (like we have very similar handwriting)could be because we are 99.95% genetically the same! Crazy! It blows my mind! I just wanted to share and see what everyone else thought.

Have a good fall break everyone.

Human Nature
Name: Adrienne W
Date: 2002-10-11 14:30:54
Link to this Comment: 3263

I think that the idea of "human nature" overlaps with the study of psychology. It relates to the idea of nature vs. nurture. For those of you who don't know, this is the question whether humans develop as a result of their innate nature ie. biological causes, or if they develop as a result of the environment they were raised in. As a a person in the teaching certification program, I've taken a few courses on human development and this question has always fascinated me. I believe that our personalities are a result of the two causes together. There are most definitely biological reasons that influence who we are.

nature or instinct?
Name: Diana La F
Date: 2002-10-20 22:37:07
Link to this Comment: 3288

Well, I think that neither is stronger because both of them are the same. The nature of an animal, whether it be a human or a panther or what have you, is based on what it's insticts cause it to do. It is the nature of a deer to run away when they see a human. This is because their instincts tell them to do this to avoid getting killed by a predator. So, I don't think the real question is whether nature is stronger than instinct or vice versa, but instead what besides our instincts dictates our everyday behavior and which of those is stronger?

instinct vs. nature
Name: Will
Date: 2002-10-21 10:18:43
Link to this Comment: 3295

I didn't have much thought on this human nature idea for a while until I read Diana's last comment. Diana was talking about instincts, and how deers run away from humans. I think instincts must be different from the nature of an animal. Instincts can be changed: before deer came to recognize humans as predators they did not take much heed to us. Now for the most part they stay away. However, there are deer today that have re-learned that instinct and search out humans becuase they have become dependent upon food humans provide. So if instinct can change, I don't think we can call it the same as the nature of something. The nature of an animal has to be something that will never change in a species (at least until the species evolves further). I can't think of an example, because there always seem to be exceptions to the rules, but humans as social animals is about the closest I'm going to get. Save the few hermits holed up somewhere, humans do have the need for social interaction and these interactions are a large part of our society, culture, way of life, even evolution.

random thoughts
Name: Annie Sull
Date: 2002-10-22 00:27:53
Link to this Comment: 3305

In light of current international conflicts, there has been much focus on the United States' public image—how the country appears to other nations. Not surprisingly, it is unusual to encounter a positive vision of the U.S. We are most commonly seen as arrogant, greedy, ignorant, and vulgar, to name a few. In fact, I recently read an article in the Tribune which opened with the statement: "There are 192 countries in the world. One is America. The remaining 191 are mostly countries that hate America." What followed was scathing criticism of the U.S.'s "fluffy" notion of multiculturalism—that by simply "agreeing" that all cultures are equal can somehow excuse one from knowing anything about them. Other countries "hate" us (in part) because we find it absolutely unnecessary to learn the first thing about their cultures.

This mindset applies even in the scientific world. I recently went to a lecture about dinosaurs in Argentina and learned that even my knowledge in this area has been distorted by an egocentric attitude. The dinosaurs, for example, that the average person imagines (i.e. the t-rex and triceratops) are dinosaurs which roamed only North America. When thinking of the largest meat-eater, most picture the t-rex. It is the giganotosaurus (literally meaning "giant of the south"), in actuality, that claims this title. The media—from which most people receive information—presents a very limited illustration of the vast array of dinosaurs which existed. Argentina is one of the richest places on earth for dinosaur excavation. Is it difficult for Americans to think of any other place as the original center for life?

This is pretty random.... I just found it interesting because when thinking about distortion of the truth, or selectiveness of the "facts" (as delivered to the public), I am usually thinking in political, cultural, or historical terms. Apparently, I need to make some additions to this list.

Name: Roma
Date: 2002-10-23 22:24:04
Link to this Comment: 3332

What exactly is the basis of biology? There has been a lot of talk on atoms, molecules etc in class and in lab and it can be safely said that the physical and chemical basis of biology is exactly that: atoms, molecules, elements, compounds, mixtures etc. As we have progressed through covalent bonding, hydrocarbons, stereoisomers, one thing leaps to mind, all this is chemistry, chemistry and more chemistry, so to answer Catherine's question belatedly, seems like we will be doing quite a bit of chemistry in this course.
On a slightly different note, how are all the sciences related to each other? How do we link physics, chemistry and biology? Math must be integrated in all of the natural sciences since probability, statistics etc always seem to pop up in science classes.
A friend of mine was telling me the other day that philosophers are frustrated biologists, biologists are frustrated chemists, chemists are frustrated physicists, physicists are frustrated mathematicians and mathematicians are frustrated philosophers. Interesting how that works, no?

Name: Elizabeth
Date: 2002-10-24 17:36:33
Link to this Comment: 3339

I, like Annie, have spent a fair amount of time thinking about the skewed cultural perspective of America in historical, political, and artistic matters, but had never even thought twice about the biases in science. Because science and math are such fact based subjects, it had never occured to me that the areas researched and the theories developed by scientists may be influenced by issues of national supremacy and other biases in American culture. For an example, it seems like the push for AIDS research came about after the disease began affecting Americans directly, years after AIDS first began to afflict third world population. Medical history is full of such instances of cultural scientific discrimination.

Name: Anastasia
Date: 2002-10-24 20:14:53
Link to this Comment: 3340

It is really interesting to hear that many of us think that it is America's fault for certian beliefs that we many have. After 9/11 I remember attending a gathering on the green outside the Campus Center and I will never forget the comments that I heard. There was a professor on the pannel that was stressing the point that this tragedy was our fault. America had done this and that, which caused other countries to hate us, which in turn cuased a terrorist attack. That entire mentality, I believe is so far off from reality and to hear a professor lecturing these points was terrible. America is one of the most powerful countries in the world. If a smaller country was to have a problem and America stepped in, at what point does it become wrong? Are we just supposed to sit back and not do anything? And what if that one small problem turned into some really big problem. Would it be our fault because we had not stepped in when the problem was small? When making decisions and acting on beliefs it is impossible to make everyone happy. There is always someone who is going to think that we are wrong, no matter what we do. But
I can't believe that because an individual didn't know that dinosaurs lived outside North America, America is to blame. I agree with Annie to some extent, but at what point do we take responsibilities for our own actions. In a situation like 9/11 and the recent sniper incidents, why does America divide itself based on individual's opinions. I guess I am kind of rambling, but I am so tired of hearing that everything is America's fault. We don't ask for horrible things to happen to us, they just do because we are such a huge power in the world. Instead of blaming everything on us, why can't we just understand that no matter what we do, it is impossible to please everyone. We need to have a little more faith in ourselves.

Name: diana dimu
Date: 2002-10-25 00:47:29
Link to this Comment: 3342

After being abroad last year after 9/11 I definitely came into contact with many cultures and people who were "anti-American" and although I agree that there are many consequences for being a capitalist nation and major power nothing excuses or merits extreme acts of violence or terror. I don't agree that "Americans brought this on themselves" but on the other hand I am far from the blind intolerant patriotism of waving a flag and not really understanding what we are getting ourselves into by attacking other nations or groups of people. I felt by being in another country I was more pro-America and patriotic than I had ever felt before, but in the same sense I was very humbled by hearing the opinions of others. I feel like 9/11 was a very sobering experience for many people and there has to be some kind of middle ground where we can be patriotic and support eachother and at the same time remain tolerant of other cultures and religions and countries. We need to be more educated about our opinions. Annie is right there are definite spins and slants to the media, to politics, cultural interpretation, history, but I feel like you can be a moral person and still be a good citizen. You don't have to hate America and capitalism in order to be against oppression and intolerance. Whereas I agree, there are so many countries that fear or hate the United States, there are still many that are still extremely grateful for help from the U.S. The U.S. has certainly done some good and needs to do more. I agree with Anastasia, we need to have more faith in ourselves and we need to continue to take action to help those in need. I realize this may seem off topic but I feel that after all that has happened this past year, that the US more than ever needs to get its act together and watch out for itself some too. The fact that it took so long to find someone related to the sniper attacks and that so many people were injured or killed within our own nations scares me beyond belief. Where do we, as a nation, get off thinking we can protect ourselves from future terrorist attacks when we can't stop extreme acts of violence and bloodshed within our own country? All the while this is happening, our President is planning attacks on the Middle East. I really just don't know what is the right direction to go in.

Name: Diana Fern
Date: 2002-10-25 02:15:55
Link to this Comment: 3343

Hey so to get back to Space and cool things like black holes, I found a section on NASA's website that shows you footage of what it would look like to approach and view a black hole from different angles. The site is go check it out. They also have things like virtual trips to neutron stars and whatnot.

scientific bias
Name: Will
Date: 2002-10-25 10:25:37
Link to this Comment: 3345

I enjoyed the posting about a scientific bias, particularly the example given. I had always known that most of the dinosaurs I had learned about could be found in North America, but it never occured to me that there would be different ones outside of North America. The scientific bias presented itself to me in an interesting, slightly slanted way the past couple of weeks. I've been looking at places to study abroad and have been checking out what courses are offered at all these schools. Turns out that Haverford and Bryn Mawr offer a much wider range of scientific classes than every school I've seen so far. Hebrew University in Jerusalem only had one Organic Chemistry course on its website for the entire science department. Interesting to think about what kind of impact that has on a society, and what kind of scientific bias they grow up with.

Name: kathryn ba
Date: 2002-10-25 15:24:20
Link to this Comment: 3348

The forum discussion about scientific bias is very interesting, and important. The formation of a bias in any field is, unfortunately, inevitable. How can a scientist, politician, reporter, etc dissociate the ideas of his or her culture from new scientific evidence, law, piece of news, etc? The notion that this is even remotely possible I feel is quite naive. One's culture is reflected in everything he or she does, including the way in which new ideas are discussed, how new data is collected, and the interpretation of new data. I don't mean to sound pessimistic about the probability of separating discussion, etc. with cultural bias, but I believe that it is impossible and an unfortunate consequence of culture with which we must continue to live.

Name: kate
Date: 2002-10-26 17:08:19
Link to this Comment: 3359

I don't understand why nucleic acids play a key role in the understandig of reproduction with varience...Can anyone help me out? Thanks.

scientific bias
Name: Adrienne W
Date: 2002-10-26 19:55:46
Link to this Comment: 3360

I think that the idea of scientific bias is very interesting. I agree that bias is inevitable in any situation, that is human nature. I think that scientists conducting research are often swayed by their personal experiences. For example, a scientist who has loved ones with cancer may choose to focus on cancer research.

Name: Catherine
Date: 2002-10-27 01:45:23
Link to this Comment: 3361

So this past week in Lab, I tested my heart rate and tested some of the different factors that go into the change in rate. I wish I had had the time and resources to test extreme temperature factors on my heart rate; although I tried to dip my hands (I wanted to do feet, actually) in ice water and then extremely hot water to test my heart rate, the water in the classroom was not nearly as cold or hot as I needed. My heart rate barely fluctuated.
I was wondering if anyone else could give me a scientific overview of what would happen to my body and heart rate?

Name: Mer
Date: 2002-10-27 08:41:52
Link to this Comment: 3363

I think that a being "American-centric" is not a crime, not should anyone feel pangs of guilty for such thoughts. Geographically, America is almost an entire continent by itself. Given its sheer size and the lack of "improvement" of South America in comparision to the United States, it is no wonder that many Americans do not take the time to learn about our neighbors, especially in S. America.

All that being said, it is the duty of Americans, as it is the duty of the rest of the world to learn about and understand different cultures and peoples. We should not act selfishly, thinking about how our actions affect only us, but how they affect the rest of the world. Being nationalist is only a crime when the rest of the world suffers from our excusionary acts.

Name: Sarah Tan
Date: 2002-10-27 11:06:16
Link to this Comment: 3364

My HA posts articles from the Wall Street Journal on the wall outside her room, and one of them is about the development of the brain in adults. Conventional theory has said that if certain skills aren't developed at a young age, they're lost forever. It's the kind of "can't teach an old dog new tricks" mentality, and also, for humans, it is quite widely accepted that playing musical instruments or learning foreign languages to the point of fluency are imposssible if they aren't started by the teenage years, if not earlier. However, this article says that according to new research, the brain will develop if it is stiumulated, no matter what the age of the person. Most interestingly, it proposes that the mind can affect brain growth, i.e. you can make your brain grow and develop further simply by thinking.

This also goes along with our lab this week, where in some groups, people experimented with whether they can change their heart rates simply by thinking about it, and if I remember correctly, for people who thought about slowing it down, their heart rates actually did slow down (I don't know or anyone who tried to speed it up by thinking, but that would be interesting, too). I think this goes to show that we can control how we are more than we thought with our minds alone, even things that are generally thought to be set and unchangeable.

Looking at it all
Name: Katie
Date: 2002-10-27 11:35:43
Link to this Comment: 3366

I think Mer hit the idea of destructive nationalism on the spot. Yes, it's important to have things that bring groups of people together and unify them. After all, some of us talked much about human nature including the desire of everyone to be loved, to love one another, and form meaningful relationships. Therefore nationalism isn't necessarily bad, but I think that with anything you have to keep in mind that its effects and such all of it funnel into whether it's a good or bad invention. And so if others (countries, people within the nation-state, minorities, etc) suffer from the nationalism of one group then that contributes to it being either bad or good. It's kinda the idea that "the ends justify the means," that if it's good for that one group of people then it's fine and justified, but in actuality, how it effects others in relation to that group really makes it what it is...and if it's destructive then that nationalism is not a good thing.
You have to look at the whole picture...and not just what it is for part of who's involved.

painful lessons
Name: heidi
Date: 2002-10-27 11:57:16
Link to this Comment: 3367

I play volleyball from BMC and we recently had a tri-match at Dickinson College. We went there with the confident expectation to win. We lost to both Dickinson and Washington. They were the matches you really DON'T want to lose because you know you are better and all that good stuff.
The first thing coach asked us afterwards was: "What did you learn from this?" We came up with all sorts of lessons we had learned like one should never be too confident, simply keeping the ball in play is crucial, you cannot win individually, and some other volleyball related points. As upset as we were, she simply said: "then today has not been wasted."
It was this realization that I feel can and MUST be applied to almost any situation and that brings me tot he point I would like to make about International Realizations, events like Sept. 11 and this forum.
Diana expressed in this forum that "[She] feel like 9/11 was a very sobering experience for many people and there has to be some kind of middle ground where we can be patriotic and [supportive]". I personally could not agree more.
The people who concern me most are the ones that don't seem to learn anything from these tragedies. People that continue to walk through life saying: "We don't ask for horrible things to happen to us, they just do because we are such a huge power in the world." We cannot let anger blind us especially in issues that, as we have discussed in this forum, affect each of us individually.
Ultimately, my point is that we must learn something from these events, however small the lesson may be. It must give us more insight into the conflict or else we are being selfish. How is anything ever going to improve if we say that we're not involved in the problem? However you look at it, that's not constructive and chances are, widespread ignorance will make it will happen again.
Ah yes...Volleyball.
Just like in volleyball, if you want to get better and it you want to stop loosing, you have to change something that YOU are doing and you start winning. That will most likely make the other team frustrated and you keep winning and they keep loosing but you cant change the other team's mentality if you don't change yours first. Unless hurting

missing ending
Date: 2002-10-27 12:00:38
Link to this Comment: 3368

Unless hurting them is an option for you...?

Name: Diana
Date: 2002-10-27 12:10:41
Link to this Comment: 3369

Does having a varied scientific background create more scientific bias or less? I haven't been able to figure this out. On the one hand, having an understanding of many different areas of science (i.e. chemistry and biology and genetics and physics...) could make parallels between the areas more apparant and more easily understood. Kind of like thinking out of the box. On the other hand, having this knowledge might lead people to jump to conclusions a little too fast, or as fast as is possible with science. They could see something that reminds them of a phenomenon in physics and attribute it to that when physics might not actually have an effect, it could just be a coincidence. What does everyone else think?

Kate's question
Name: Erin Myers
Date: 2002-10-27 13:44:15
Link to this Comment: 3371

I'm going to attempt to answer Kate's question. For more info you can visit PBS or Campbell. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the recipe for life. Cells reproduce when the DNA's double helix splits into two strands. New neucleotides match up with the "unzipped" DNA. Because each neucleotide is very particlar about who they match up with (A with G, T with C) the result is two identical DNA strands, each with one side of the original DNA. Next the cell splits in two with a DNA strand in each daughter cells.

This process explaines reproduction with variance when you consider what happens when neucleotides match up with the unzipped DNA incorrectly. When the cell spits with the two resultantant DNA one of the daughter cells is different from the other. Hope that helps. Do visit PBS.

more american thoughts
Name: Jodie
Date: 2002-10-27 21:12:18
Link to this Comment: 3376

The media presents us with a view of the world that is skewed. Of course. Within the media there are different opinions. The Wall Stree Journal, for example, leans a bit to the right, while the New York Times leans a bit to the left. American political parties, well, the democrats and republicans, do not differ extremely from each other. It is hard to find a different view of what is going on, but it is possible. It is up to us to discover things like dinosaurs in South America. What Meredith said about Americans not taking the time to learn these things is true. There is also the problem of the public school system, which does not usually offer many world history classes. (In my years in public school, we had world history in seventh grade, and then world geography in ninth grade. In "world" geography, a nine week course, we spent two weeks on the world, and nine weeks on the United States.) We are taught about America and taught as though America is the center of the world. Think about maps. America is the center of the maps we see. Doesn't it seem obvious that it would be? As Americans, don't you want it to be? If you were given a map that had Europe as its center, and were taught from a European point of view, you would rebel...we fought the British and now have nothing to do with them or their contitent, right? We are all intelligent people...we have the ability and perhaps the desire to think outside America, and to try to think from another point of view. There are many magazines available to us in which we can read the opinions of people in many other countries. We have the resources available to combat this ethnocentricism we are so "guilty" of. I personally think schools should attempt to teach more world history, but at the same time I know that it is hard to get students interested in subject they think have nothing to do with them. It is really hard to convince a fifteen year old boy in New Hampshire that the history of Mozambique in anyway relates to him. America is at the center of our minds because it relates directly to us. We teach it more because it has to do with us. America, in many ways, is us. Every American citizen, I don't care how liberal and "not part of the system" you think you are, is America and is influenced by the "American culture." And to perhaps relate this to biology, it might be biologically inherent to be interested in things that relate to us. We seek connections all the time. We look at pictures a friend took and are more interested in the ones of our friends, and most interested in the ones of ourselves. We like ourselves. And really, it's not that bad. Being aware of this is what is important. Other people's opinions matter. America does not have the last say of what goes on in the world. Neither do I. =)

To follow up Erin's answer to Kate's question...the DNA is a code for the strands of amino acids that make up proteins, which are essentially the building blocks of life. Well all of it is, really, but still. Visit what Erin said to visit. =)

follow your head....follow your heart
Name: Roma
Date: 2002-10-28 18:06:47
Link to this Comment: 3387

How many times have we used the phrase "follow your head/follow your heart" or heard others use it?
Science says that the thinking center of the human body is the brain or the head but our environment/society shows that there are other thoughts we can follow, those of our hearts and our instincts.Most people have at least once in their lives followed their gut feelings.
How do we make decisions? How do we justify our decisions and our actions? It is not necessarily our heads which are used to make all decisions; those split second decisions not justified by conscious thought are made using the heart or instincts.
Who is to say what is better? Who is to say that the outcome would have been better if one had used one's head/heart?
Who is to say what's more important and what we should follow when it comes to making those crucial life-changing decisions.....the head or the heart?

Science is always biased
Name: Brenda
Date: 2002-10-28 21:12:42
Link to this Comment: 3397

Today in class (10/28) we were talking about whether or not science (and scientists) are biased by their culture. Well, I say that even if scientists were not ethnocentric towards themselves, their work may appear to be so because they must cater to the whims and political views of their patrons. Without their funds, they would be out of a it's easier, in some cases, for the scientists to use their patrons' view-points rather than their own (it ensures that they'll be funded in the future!) So, I propose that it is not always the fault of the scientists if their theories appear to be biased towards one culture or another.

Control over emotions
Name: Maggie
Date: 2002-10-29 08:13:47
Link to this Comment: 3406

A friend and I were talking, and she asserted that people have more control over their emotions than they admit. She thinks that if you're in a bad mood, you have the ability to stop being in a bad mood. She claims that it is a relatively easy thing to do and everyone should do it because then no one would be in a bad mood for very long. I agree that sometimes you get upset over little things and then you can tell yourself "okay, this is silly, I'm not going to be upset about this," and it works. However, sometimes you just get kind of grumpy for no specific reason that you can pinpoint. How can you stop being upset if you don't know why you're upset? I also think that sometimes you have to be in a bad mood, even if you aren't sure why you are upset. I'm not sure if it's healthy to ALWAYS be cheerful. I'm also not sure if I agree that we can all exert complete control over our emotions if we have the will to do so. Any thoughts?

Is it all in the mind?
Name: Roma
Date: 2002-10-29 13:00:28
Link to this Comment: 3412

Emotions, Control, hmm. Many people are controlled by their moods while others have managed to master the art of controlling their emotional variances. Why do we have mood swings? PMS can be a factor and so can fluctuations in blood sugar level. Exercise releases endomorphins in the blood system which gives us that distinct energized *good* feeling. Hence many different factors stimulate different mood swings which in turn can make us irritable, sad, happy or spaced out. It is true if one is in pain and keeps repeating "I am fine, I am not in pain" or focuses her mind elsewhere she can possibly alleviate her feelings of pain but then this is completely dependent on the individual and her level of will-power. So I would say that having control over one's emotions and moods mostly depends on the individual concerned.

UCltural Influence on Scientific thought
Name: Amanda Mac
Date: 2002-10-29 15:19:21
Link to this Comment: 3417

Going back to the question of whether or not culture affects scientists and the way think, I think that it is impossible to escape your own background and therefore your own culture when dealing with any topic of research. I was reading in my philosophy class the other an essay by Roland Barthes, an incredibly intelligent guy, about the interpretation of texts. He basically said that there is no single right interpretation because not only do texts change over time, but we read a text the way we have learned to read a text. That is to say that we see an interpretation in a text that we have already experienced. It is impossible to escape our own knowledge because there must be some basis for comparison or question. thus, when applying this to scientists, it woudl be valid to say that scientists read science or data wih the knowledge that they already know or have learned from their own culture. So, it is impossible to escape culture when discussing science due to the inablity to detach both topics.

Name: Rosie, Ana
Date: 2002-10-30 15:04:43
Link to this Comment: 3427

For the first experiment, we tested Audio, Visual, and Tactile reaction times. Our results were:
Anastasia: Audio - .1488
Visual - .1549
Tactile - .1495
Muscle contraction - .058

Rosie: Audio - .2211
Visual - .2293
Tactile - .1919
Muscle contraction - .07

Annie: Audio - .142
Visual - .2416
Tactile - .1637
Muscle contraction - .044

For the second experiment we first tested Audio when one person was having a conversation with the person who was being tested.
The average reaction time for this was .2186.

We then tested the reaction time for Touch when the person's eyes were closed and they were hit randomly anywhere on their body. The average reaction time for this was .1638.

Finally we tested the reaction time Visually. The person watched the screen with only one eye open. The reaction time for only the right eye was .3008 and the reaction time for the left eye was .2374. The person was using their right hand to click.

From this experiment we concluded that for Audio it was much faster when the person was not being distracted. Annie originally had .1416 as her reaction time, but when she was being distracted her reaction time was .2186. It almost doubled. For Visual reaction time, we concluded that when the eye on the same side as the hand that clicks the button is open, the reaction time is slower. For the right hand and right eye, the reaction time was .3008. For the right hand left eye, the reaction time was .2186.

Name: Anastasia
Date: 2002-10-30 22:31:56
Link to this Comment: 3437

The other day when we were talking about whether or not scientists were biased, I got a little confused. I don't understand how a scientist can be biased. If someone was doing AIDS researche, how could they be biased? I don't get how science can be biased toward a culture or someone's background. It doesn't make sense.

Also, in today's lab, it was surprising that the fastest reaction time was with the tactile motion. You would think that it would take a long time to react to someone hitting you, but it was the opposite. It does kind of make sense that the visual took the longest reaction time because it is necessary for you eyes to first register that you saw the object, then send the message, then for your brain to send the message to your hand to click and then for you to actually click. It is a little surprising but makes a lot of sense.

Name: Michele
Date: 2002-11-01 01:32:20
Link to this Comment: 3452

In response to Anastasia's question about how scientists can be biased, I think that the degree to which it exists depends on the type of science we are talking about. In my opinion, psychology and other sciences that are more flexible to interpretations are much more likely to have biased scientists than the more detail-oriented sciences such as chemistry. But all scientists are biased to an extent because as humans, we have distinct upbringings, beliefs, and morals that affect the way in which we interpret and understand results.

Name: Laura Bang
Date: 2002-11-01 21:33:48
Link to this Comment: 3480

I agree with Maggie that it is not always possible to control your emotions. Sometimes I just feel "blue" and I have no idea why, so telling myself to stop doesn't help. But I also think that our emotions are influenced by other people. For instance, when I'm alone for a long period of time, I start to feel depressed (like over fall break, when I stayed on campus and all of my friends and most of the people on my hall went home). One of the "natural instincts" of humans is to group together, humans are not solitary animals. So when we are alone, we feel "out of sorts" because we are used to being around other people. And when I am feeling depressed for no reason that I can determine, it helps me to be around my friends, particularly the ones who are best at making me laugh. And when I am around other people, whether or not they are my friends, I tend to feel less depressed than when I am alone. Even if I don't know people, just being around other people makes me feel less lonely. I don't know if this is true for all humans, but I think that one of our biggest natural fears is being alone, perhaps because if we were alone we would most likely lose the art of civilization that we have created over the centuries of human life on earth. The way I look at my emotions and how they correlate to the presence of other humans around me, it seems to me that my emotions are dependent on other humans and not just myself, and so perhaps all humans are somewhat connected to each other through their emotions and the emotional influence they hold over one another...

Bias is not only in science
Name: Adrienne
Date: 2002-11-02 10:19:09
Link to this Comment: 3481

Amanda's post really caught my eye because she mentioned literary scholar Roland Barthes. I agree completely and I would like to add to the discussion on scientific bias. Bias does not exist only in the field of science, it exists in all aspects of academia. In fact, it probably permeates all aspects of our lives. In fields such as English literature, literary critics are biased in what they choose to study. Often, this means that they only study literature that is in vogue, such as memoir or African-American literature. Since they are the authorities that create the canon, it means that their bias makes them over look good pieces of literature.

Name: kathryn ba
Date: 2002-11-02 12:39:38
Link to this Comment: 3482

Adding to the discussion about the ability to control emotions, I do not believe that humans are capable of controlling their emotions. Humans experience emotions for a variety of reasons....biological (e.g. depression), social, cognitive, etc. Is it really possible for one to decide to be happy, sad, cheerful? I tend to think not because the many external factors that dictate how we feel are not easily controllable. One cannot decide to cease being depressed if a chemical imbalance is the cause of depression. If a person wakes up in a grouchy mood for no apparent reason, how can she overcome the cause of her mood when it is not obvious? The notion that one can make an effort to be happy may be possible, but the transformation from depression to a better mood is gradual. A depression off/ happy on light switch does not exist. Rather, one must attempt to discover what is causing her glum mood before re-evaluating the state of her emotions.

Name: Catherine
Date: 2002-11-03 04:57:14
Link to this Comment: 3486

Okay, my computer froze THREE TIMES already so let's hope this fourth post actually makes it up...

To add on to previous comments about emotions, I believe that they are controllable. But they are not meant to be commanded; that is, one with a strong will can decide not to feel what he wants to feel, but if he blocks emotions or attempts to sway them, this can be detrimental to his health: physically, psychologically, and thus cumulatively. For instance, when someone loses a loved one and does not allow the natural grieving process to take its due course, this takes a lot of strength. The person may become apathetic to other occurrences.
Blocking painful memories can be a cause of multiple personality disorder. Many people develop other persons in their minds because they want to block negative experiences.
On a slight tangent, I was wondering whether anyone else does this: When I am angry or frustrated, I have a habit of turning on my television and watching some comedy or show to forget why I am upset and to feel better. Television makes me feel lighter. It is unsettling how much I rely on television to feel better sometimes; it has a big influence on my emotions. Does anybody else feel this way?

Emotions and Another Note
Name: Katie Camp
Date: 2002-11-03 09:44:34
Link to this Comment: 3489

First, I just wanted to say, it's really amazing how the chemistry of the macromolecules we're learning about and the biological rules we discuss in class fit together so well, it was really interesting to understand exactly how the phospholipids are the reason for boundedness in our systems.
Finally, a note about emotions. This discussion really intrigues me because I've been trying to shake a bad mood off and on this week...One day I woke up and I did make one of those "commands" on myself, realizing that if I just took a moment to have a new perspective on everything then maybe I could feel better about my situation, react in a different way with people, etc. But it seems to keep coming back. That's when I gravitate towards believing that emotions are a biological response to stimulus in our lives. Like the presence or lack of sunlight, illness, etc. So I'm not just trying to search for an excuse for bad moods or saddness, but I think it makes sense that emotions of the sort are normal responses and not totally controllable. You can control your actions and certain reactions to things, but not the feeling behind them...And other thoughts?

It is ok to talk
Name: Mer
Date: 2002-11-03 10:11:12
Link to this Comment: 3490

The worst sentence that one person can say to another is. "I think we have to talk." But at the same time it is the best. While talking about feelings or sentiments can be embarrassing, it is also a way of working with your feelings so that they do not become bottled up. It is also a great way to communicate and telling people how you actually feel can be a life-altering act.

You cannot completely control your mood. Many times small things can be overcome and you can master your emotions. But sometimes life gives you situations that are beyond your control and saying, "this is silly" is not enough. It is sad that is this society is frowned upon for a man to cry or more importantly, for both men and women to try to talk to each other about feelings. I think that our society would be much happier overall if it was accepted that talking about these and other aspects of the life that prove to be a challenge is part of a healthy life.

more emotions
Name: kate
Date: 2002-11-03 11:09:34
Link to this Comment: 3491

Are emotions really the only factor in determining our actions? I think that when one chooses to "follow their heart" rationality is included in that decision. So how much do cultural influences affect our gut reactions? It seems that if society defines right v. wrong, our emotions reflect (sub-consciously or otherwise) cultural biases to some degree.

Name: Heather
Date: 2002-11-03 12:24:07
Link to this Comment: 3492

I personally think that the whole notion of "following the heart" is just another lovely throwback to our roots in film, tv, and classic literature. We usually only use it when we're acting "irrationally," but really if we were actually "following the heart" so to speak, it wouldn't always be irrational. The context in which we actaully use it is often a very selfish one, but most people are selfish all the time. Besides, some people can't control their emotions at all, but should they be the only one's painted as the romantic hero who "fights against all odds to follow their heart"? Ick, no. How much control a person has over their emotions depends on the person, and is usually part of the enviroment in which they grew up. I think we've taken to the notion of "following the heart" simply because we've romanticized it so much. But now that it's only used as a canned excuse for (usually) acting stupidly and selfishly, it's not doing anyone anygood. Well, except for those that want to get away with it...

Name: Diana La F
Date: 2002-11-03 12:59:48
Link to this Comment: 3493

First off, I would like to make a comment on the topic of controling one's emotions. I don't believe that we have much control over what emotions we actually feel per say, but we do have control over which one's we allow ourselves to feel. I know that I personally block out a lot of emotions that I don't want to feel at a certain time, which comes back to get me later. If you're angry at someone, you can push that emotion down and concentrate on the beautiful day. However, that anger won't go away. It will stay there, nagging you until you either let yourself experience the emotion or let it build up to be so strong that it takes over you. So, you can make people believe you're in a good mood, you can even make yourself believe it if you're lucky, but if there are underlying emotions there's no way you can lie to yourself forever.

On another note, while doing research for the next paper I came across a quote that I wanted to share:

Knowing is objective in the sense of establishing contact with a hidden reality.

After thinking for a few minutes to try to figure out what it was saying, it really hit home. What does everyone else think?

Name: Chelsea Ro
Date: 2002-11-03 13:25:18
Link to this Comment: 3494

On the subject of controlling one's emotions, I think that you can do things that influence your emotional state (including actions to try to get yourself to ignore it, cheer up, etc. and actions to influence the situation that's upsetting you when possible to do so) to some extent, but only to some extent. I also agree with the notion that it's not always a good idea to try to just arbitrarily change/stifle emotions that you naturally feel. They are telling you something -- perhaps kind of like if you accidently put your hand down on something hot and get burnt ... If you were to be numb and not feel the pain you would still be getting burnt you just might not move your hand for a while. I tend to feel more comfortable with the idea of analyzing my emotions (what I'm feeling and why, etc.) and then trying to figure out how best to address things from there (ie: is there a way I can change the conditions which are upsetting me, etc.). This also, at least for me personally, feels like it keeps me more in touch with what I actually want, what actually makes me happy, satisfied, etc. (wow this is sounding cliched ...). Admittedly, there are some temporary scenarios in which it's useful to be able to briefly put off analyzing your feelings until an immediate situation has passed (ie: if I have an exam to take and I'm upset about something unrelated, it's useful to be able to pull myself together for it and analyze emotions later).

Emotions and how they inhibit me from living
Date: 2002-11-03 13:38:53
Link to this Comment: 3496

I totally understand how emotions have such a large impact on how we live our daily lives. There are so many things that effect our emotions - something as simple as tripping over something on the way out of bed in the morning can tell me that today is going to be simply, for lack of a better word, shitty - and it's sometimes hard to know how to put your emotions back in place so that you can feel better and move on with your life. Sometimes it's as simple as eating the right food, like fruits or fish, and sometimes you have to take a DAY OFF and just turn in stuff a little late. I remember last year I was going though a hard time, not only being away from home, but with the different weather patterns (as you can guess, one sees the sun a lot more often in California than in Pennsylvania), missing my old friends and adjusting to all the work. One thing that helped was to just take a little bit of time to myself every day. Since I was in a double, that meant taking an old book that wasn't for class to the campus cafe, starbucks or cosi's, splurging (who has $4 to spend on one cup of coffee, I ask you?) and just reading and enjoying my own company for a couple hours. This year I'm in a single and I have the opposite problem - that is, I constantly want to be with people. My door is always open, and luckily my hall is very social and they're all very nice. But it goes beyond that, as well - I always want to eat with someone at the dining hall, and I hate walking into town by myself, an experience I cheriched last year.

Someone was talking about how watching television helped her to get over feelings of depression. That's interesting, because I do the same thing. I think that when you're depressed, you tend to think too much about how awful things are, and then your sensible side says that it's really not so bad but you still feel crappy and you can't explain why and you don't really know why you feel so bad and therefore you don't know how to go about feeling better ... you see what I mean. And when you're watching television, your actually think less - seriously, your brain waves actually slow down - in fact, your brain works harder when you're asleep than when you're watching television. This gives your brain a rest and, by the time you're done with SNL or 'Sex and the City' or, my own personal favorite, 'Gilmore Girls', things don't seem so bad as they did before.

Just a thought ...

More emotions...
Name: Stephanie
Date: 2002-11-03 14:49:56
Link to this Comment: 3497

It seems that the topic of emotion is on everyone's mind. But it also seems like people tend to discriminate and regard certain emotions in a bad light. I think many people confuse emotion, by itself, with the emotion and the way it is expressed.

I mean, people are talking about how you should block out "bad" emotions like sadness or anger and store them away or whatever, but I think that emotions should be felt to their proper extent, at the time for which they apply. This may sound strange at first but, who's to say that being happy is better than being sad? People shouldn't be one emotion all the time. I know this seems like twisted justification from an often labeled "overreactive," "oversensitive" person like myself, but I think that you wouldn't have the emotions you have unless you were supposed to feel them (save cases of depression or other diseases). It's good to be angry, happy, sad whatever because it is what you are feeling and it is who you are at the moment. People should just be careful in their expression of them. Anger can lead to violence or crime, and I'm in no way justifying those effects. I am saying that that person has a right to their emotions and you can't look down on a person for experiencing them. Lots of great things can be accomplished when a person expresses their sadness or happiness; just look at some of the world's greatest works of art.

I think society should be more accepting of emotions and their importance on a personal level. WHat triggers one person's anger may not in another person because its relative to each individual. We should remember that when we do experience saddness or anger or joy that we have every right to feel it, we just have to be careful about the way in which it is expressed.

Name: Diana Fern
Date: 2002-11-03 21:57:30
Link to this Comment: 3508

Following your head or your heart, this topic is interesting to because it corrolates with my webpaper on human attraction. Following an instinctual drive in regards to fufilling certain passions is a highly emotional act (passion), yet people in relationships are highly offended when their partner has these passionate sentiments for people other than themselves. Hence following your heart as opposed to your head, can be a load of crap if you ask me, because if my boyfriend said he had follwoed his heart to another lady and couldnt help his emotions, i would tell him to follow his heart out the damn door.

Name: Sarah Tan
Date: 2002-11-04 01:34:31
Link to this Comment: 3512

I agree that talking about emotions can have unbelievable benefits to your life. It's always good to have catharsis and just get things out of your system, because even if nothing is solved, having someone who knows what's going on with you is important for maintaining sanity. In fact, the sharing of emotions can change society as whole, and the cultural taboo may eventually get lifted. Right now, even going to therapy is looked down upon, when it is possibly one of the best things that a person can do for himself. As Mer said, part of being healthy is talking through the difficult times in our lives. It is only by making these small advancements that human society will rise to greater heights as together we surmount ever greater challeneges.

Television and Emotions
Name: Catherine
Date: 2002-11-04 02:20:14
Link to this Comment: 3513

One thing I neglected to mention in my earlier post is that tests have shown that when a person watches television, his brain wave data is a flat line; in other words, there is no THOUGHT process occurring. People tend not to think when they watch television; they don't reason things out, because the story-lines are simple enough for the ideal target age audience, 12 year olds, to understand the plots. Thus the only facet of us that is affected is emotions.

control emotions?
Name: Brie Farle
Date: 2002-11-05 10:24:59
Link to this Comment: 3534

So, for the past 24 hours, I've been thinking about the theory that one can completely control her emotions. I completely disagree! Let me just propose a few examples. Please feel free to counter-argue. I would love to know if someone was capable of controlling her emotions in all of the following...

1. You study non-stop for an exam in your favorite class with your favorite professor, you take the exam, feel great, but when you get it back a week later, you've earned 39%, with a big "SEE ME" in red letters.
2. You approach your favorite professor and he/she tells you they don't have time for you this week, then tell you they can't remember your name.
3. Next week, you plan to visit your professor's office. You trip on the steps on the way, and realize that your watch is ten minutes slow.
4. You enter the office, (late), sit down, and begin conversing with your professor. You look over your exam. Your professor smiles and asks you if you'd like the paid tutoring job offered by the department for having received the only 3.9 on the exam.

Any comments??

I see a distinct difference between feeling emotions and expressing emotions. I agree that repressing emotion expression can be detrimental, whether it is laughing or crying. My biggest questions are, is our ability to feel certain emotions culturally or biologically constructed? Does everyone have the same feeling for Jealously, for example. Can it be gaged? Similarly, where does the expression of emotion come from? I would be interested to compare an expression such as crying in several situations, such as physical vs. emotional pain. What's the difference?

Name: amanda mac
Date: 2002-11-05 14:29:47
Link to this Comment: 3536

I agree with Brie, in that there is a very big differance between having emotions and showing them; clearly the controlability of emotions woudl seem to lye in the fact of controling your actions. But, I think that the pertinant point hear is not that you may or may not be able to control actions that are due to emotional bursts, but being able to actually control how you feel on a day to day basis. For example, is it possible to make yourself happier if you are haivng a bad day? Can you yourself move out of your depression? I feel that in some cases yes. Excluding cases in which people have serious chemical imbalances either either from drugs or hereditary stuff or whatever, for people who are, let's say, down on their luck, I am a firm believer in karma. Those feelings that you try to support in yourself, and exert towards others has a huge affect on, in my experiance, the way you feel on a day to day basis. In terms of feeling a certain emotion towards an immediate inbalance in your life, that is a little differant. I suppose with that it still is feasible for an individual to change emotion. for example, my dog dies, i am sad, then i convince myself that he is better of dead becaus he was so sick. so essentially i am creating a way for me to cope with it. let say mourn. is this an emotion? hmmmm, can we control our emotions?

Name: Elizabeth
Date: 2002-11-06 13:05:54
Link to this Comment: 3561

Amanda's post brought up an interesting point. What's the distinction between controlling your emotions and coping with them? Control seems to imply a repression of "negative" emotions, which can't be healthy. However, coping with your emotions allows you to feel sad or upset, but prevents these feelings from overwhelming you. You may not be able to control your emotions, but you usually can control how well you cope with them.

Name: Rosie, Bob
Date: 2002-11-06 15:20:54
Link to this Comment: 3565

After gathering an initial set of data, we decided to test the practice effect. We hypothesized that as we gained practice experience, our times would decrease. To test this, we performed a second trial, this time performing ten trials rather than five. We thought that as a second overall trial (consisting of a greater number of individual trials), that our reaction times would become faster. Following is a summary of our data:

Case 1: all three of us increased in reaction time.
Case 2: Rosie increased, Annie and Bobbi decreased.
Case 3: Annie increased, Bobbi and Rosie decreased.
Case 4: all three of us decreased in reaction time.

Our data shows no correlation between reaction time and increased experience or practice. Our hypothesis is therefore incorrect. The results seem random. The practice effect cannot help in this situation because the test is still random and the prompts are unexpected (concentration is still necessary). While we may have gained familiarity with the practice (meaning that our times should have decreased), we were also growing distracted and tired of taking the test--these two factors may have counteracted one another.

Name: Rosie, Bob
Date: 2002-11-06 15:21:33
Link to this Comment: 3566

After gathering an initial set of data, we decided to test the practice effect. We hypothesized that as we gained practice experience, our times would decrease. To test this, we performed a second trial, this time performing ten trials rather than five. We thought that as a second overall trial (consisting of a greater number of individual trials), that our reaction times would become faster. Following is a summary of our data:

Case 1: all three of us increased in reaction time.
Case 2: Rosie increased, Annie and Bobbi decreased.
Case 3: Annie increased, Bobbi and Rosie decreased.
Case 4: all three of us decreased in reaction time.

Our data shows no correlation between reaction time and increased experience or practice. Our hypothesis is therefore incorrect. The results seem random. The practice effect cannot help in this situation because the test is still random and the prompts are unexpected (concentration is still necessary). While we may have gained familiarity with the practice (meaning that our times should have decreased), we were also growing distracted and tired of taking the test--these two factors may have counteracted one another.

Name: jodie & la
Date: 2002-11-06 15:37:27
Link to this Comment: 3571

we hypothesized that our accuracy would be lower if we concentrated on speed. we tested this by repeating the second, third, and fourth cases twice each, once concentrating on accuracy and once concentrating on speed. here are our results:

case 2 accuracy - 390 +- 105 100% accuracy
case 2 speed - 355 +- 70 84% accuracy
case 3 accuracy - 581 +- 188 100% accuracy
case 3 speed - 434 +- 81 83% accuracy
case 4 accuracy - 536 +- 87 93% accuracy
case 4 speed - 492 +- 83 86% accuracy

case 2 accuracy - 312 +- 63 100% accuracy
case 2 speed - 274 +- 37 90% accuracy
case 3 accuracy - 366 +- 53 100% accuracy
case 3 speed - 415 +- 160 71% accuracy
case 4 accuracy - 414 +- 128 91% accuracy
case 4 speed - 360 +- 277 72% accuracy

for the most part, our hypothesis was correct. our accuracy was affected by concentrating on speed. the actual speed, however, was affected by concentrating on it in a negative way because we were flustered by the amount of mistakes we were making.

Name: Anastasia
Date: 2002-11-07 23:42:07
Link to this Comment: 3597

First, just in case all you guys didn't see our lab notes the first time, we posted them up twice. Pretty smart if you ask me. We obviously are doing a thorough job of getting our hypotheses out there. No seriously, sorry about that. Anyway, I think Brie made an excellent point in her example. It is impossible to control emotions, I think. They are almost set, certain experiences seem to trigger certain emotions. If something bad happens, you usually feel sad, or angry. If something good happens, you usually feel happy. There are certain actions and events that spark our emotions. They are almost instinctive, or back to a previous topic, could they be considered human nature? Is is natural to humans that we cry when we are sad and we laugh when we are happy? I think that to some extent we can control how we act out our emotions. Some people do not cry, while others, once they start, can not seem to stop crying. It is in interesting topic, but I do think that it must have a very concrete answer. I like to think of it this way: it is impossible to control every event that happens, therefore it is impossible to control our emotions. We might wake up happy one morning and say to ourselves that nothing is going to bring us down that day. But, what if your mom was injured in a car accident. Would you not be sad because you were determined to stay happy all day long? You become sad because of the things that happen to you in life, which are mostly uncontrollable, therefore your emotions are as well.

Name: Catherine
Date: 2002-11-08 00:38:55
Link to this Comment: 3598

I wanted to ask people a few questions about lab... I finished lab on Wednesday and went back to my dorm room, and began using my computer. I realized right away that I had mouse-clicking reflex problems... I also seemed to have a bit of a problem with hearing commands and reading, and I was thinking that maybe this was a result of our lab experiments? Did anyone else get this too?
I thought that I had a lot of trouble doing the read-negate part of the lab because I had been so classically conditioned to read certain commands and carry them out. But only a few hours of doing the opposite of what I had been so accustomed to doing for so many years seems to have had a lasting effect, if only for the next few hours...

Name: Kyla Ellis
Date: 2002-11-08 00:54:05
Link to this Comment: 3599

Going back to Brie's comment, (again) I liked her question about if our ability to feel certain emotions culturally or biologically constructed. I think it comes from both, partly. For example, Sea Turtles will eat their own babies if they see them in the ocean, something that humans (well, most of them) would not be able to do because it would cause them to feel sad, guilty, and all that. Our brains are constructed so that we can have certain feelings that other living organisms cannot have, so biologically, our emotions are constructed in this way.
However, I have seen evidence of emotions being culturally affected, also. I do not think that culture has anything to do with our ABILITY to feel emotions, but with the way that we deal with them. For example, I read a book by a woman that did AIDS research in Colombia. When she asked poor women if they minded that their husbands had the occasional extra-marital fling, they replied that they did not, because their husbands were good to them when they were home and they were in no place to question what the man of the house did in his own time. However, if you ask a middle class British woman if she felt the same way, I'm sure you would get a much different answer.

Name: Chelsea
Date: 2002-11-08 01:32:23
Link to this Comment: 3600

So I've been thinking about the conversations in class regarding the fact that the breakdown of improbable systems to probable systems allows for the creation of more improbable systems...and then I was watching Queer as Folk and there was an episode where three of the main characters are in a sort of love triangley thing. Ted loves Michael, Michael loves Brian, and Brian doesn't love anyone. Brian and Ted are talking about their impossible situations- Brian tells Ted to give Michael up and says that the only reason Ted loves Michael (and Michael loves Brian) is that it is an impossible situation, and Ted is intentionally inflicting pain upon himself because he believes subconsciously that he is unworthy of love and therefore doomed to pine away for all eternity. And the whole point of that was: does love, then, mirror life? For every "beauty/beast" relationship that breaks down and becomes "boy/girl next door" is there a cosmic meeting of the souls somewhere? Is it the number of "improbable" relationships that don't work and become "probable" relationships that make the successful improbable ones possible? Can you even address this point because there is no way to summarize human attraction into a list of probables and improbables...I'm inclined to think the latter, but thought the concept might be interesting. Also, what do you guys think of the idea that we love only what we can't have because we secretly feel unworthy? Certainly this isn't a universal truth, but is it a possibility for some people? Is there any way to answer such a thing- for that matter, is there such a thing as love?! Too many questions, but I'd like to hear what you guys think:)

shameless plug...again
Name: Chelsea Ph
Date: 2002-11-08 09:03:09
Link to this Comment: 3603

Sorry guys, just one more time!!

Come see the Shakespeare Troupe's Performance of HAMLET'S SHORTS!

8pm Goodhardt Music Room TONIGHT (friday) and Saturday!!

It is less than an hour long...and you can buy a really cool t-shirt that says "Big Willy Rocks My World"! Only $10!


improbable vs probable
Name: Will
Date: 2002-11-08 10:40:55
Link to this Comment: 3606

From the beginning of the course I felt like using the terms "improbable" and "probable assemblies" wasn't the way to go about it. I originally thought that it was just becuase I had been used to other terms for it, "unstable" and "stable" or talking in terms of free energy, so I came to accept the idea. But then I was thinking a couple of classes about it and I decided I still didn't like the use of those terms. What makes us an improbable assembly? We learned that it is very unlikely that if we were to randomize our body parts, it'd be very improbable that we came out the way we are now. But I don't think that's how we should be viewing ourselves. In the beginning (I sound like a bible) there was just a random assortment of atoms, and there was some jolt of energy that caused many of these atoms to bond and form planets and stars. Over time other atoms bonded and formed life. The atoms themselves, as we've learned in our study of carbohydrates, are designed to fit together in certain chains. Therefore when a carbon atom finds four hydrogen atoms, they are very likely to form methane due to their structure. So pretty much, all of our atoms in our body are supposed to fit together. If we randomized our body parts, threw them out of a bag and put them together the way they fell, our bodies wouldn't work that way. It's not improbable that our head would be where our foot was, it's impossible - merely for the sake that evolution would weed out someone like that within one generation. In that sense, evolution and chemical bonding have combined to create a species well adapted to its environment. If you look at our world, where do you see something that's not an improbable assembly? The most probable assembly it seems, is heat, which I only see when i see heat waves rising from a stove or a fire. Everywhere else I look I see things that fall under our category of improbable assembly. How can the world be mostly improbable? I like "unstable" and "stable" beacuse yes, we are unstable beings, and if we do leave our rooms alone they will become messier (on the molecular level). The bonds in our bodies require energy to be put together, and when work is required to hold something together, it is obvious that the something is naturally not held together. Anyway, I'm not telling Prof. Grobstein he's wrong, cause I can see why he uses those terms. I just wanted to put my views out there, cause we like diversity, yay.

Emotions and Science
Name: Adrienne
Date: 2002-11-08 11:06:26
Link to this Comment: 3609

I also agree with Brie. I was thinking about the idea of controlling emotions and it seems that although we cannot control our emotions, science can. What do I mean by this? Well, antidepressants are mood enhancers that can change a person's emotions from depressed to happy. Although I have never experienced them first hand, I know many people who have taken them and they feel that they do change their emotional states.

Name: Kathryn Ba
Date: 2002-11-08 13:59:16
Link to this Comment: 3618

I was thinking about the discussion in class today about color. I am puzzled by the hypothesis that organisms have molecules that absorb certain wavelengths, which in turn cause other organisms to see color, for a reason. What difference does it make if a human has molecules that reflect black, blond, brown, or red light from hair, or blue, green, brown from the eyes. Why is it important for some people to have blue eyes and others to have green? I understand that humans who live in warms climates developed dark skin and eye color to protect against the harmful effects of strong sunlight, but what purpose do the variations have within such a population? Can't organisms have a particular color for no reason? Why must there be a purpose to everything?

Name: Maggie
Date: 2002-11-08 16:35:20
Link to this Comment: 3621

Like Kathryn, I was thinking about color after class today. Theoretically, I understand that what I perceive as color is just light reflected (refracted? I admitted it was a theoretical understanding...) back to me. What I am having difficulty getting a grip on is what happens if there is no light? Because I think most people would agree that a green t-shirt, sitting in a well-lit room, would still be green even if there was no one there to see it. (Kind of like the old 'if a tree falls in the woods' thing.) But take the organisms that live down at the bottom of the ocean where there has never been any light, do they have color? The picture showed that they had color, once they were exposed to light and the picture taken. Does that mean that they were colorless until the light was on them? Or that WE just wouldn't have been able to see the color, because there was no light for us to see anything? If the room with the green t-shirt becomes completely dark, is the t-shirt still green? Or does it just have the ability (thanks to the handy-dandy molecules) to become green? Hmm...

Name: Laura Bang
Date: 2002-11-08 19:46:04
Link to this Comment: 3623

This class rocks! I love the discussions we have in this forum, they are so interesting. Diversity of opinion is a very interesting and fun thing.

On the subject of emotions... I'm doing my web paper on emotion and I found some very interesting stuff. For instance, how are we able to tell the difference between subtly different emotions, such as anger and hatred, or serenity and contentedness? There are so many emotions, but when it comes time to describe them, most people have a very hard time. People readily admit that they can tell the difference between a real and a forced smile, but most people cannot explain how they can tell the difference. Facial expressions are a very important part of expressing our emotions. We say that we can't control our emotions, but what about actors? They are able to make their faces convey complex emotions in a very believable way. How do they do that? They are not really feeling the emotions they are portraying, yet they are able to simulate them almost perfectly (some better than others...), so how do they do that if emotions can't be controlled? I'm still of the opinion that we can't completely control our emotions, but I don't know what to say about actors... any ideas?

Science and Society
Name: Erin Myers
Date: 2002-11-08 21:38:20
Link to this Comment: 3624

I know it's been a week or two since this subject came up, but I haven't really stopped thinking about it. Today while doing some last minute research for my web paper I came across a great site that you can access from campus: Science Magazines Essays on Science and Society. There are essays on everything from Ethics to Chipanzees. Please check it out.

Name: heidi
Date: 2002-11-09 00:26:31
Link to this Comment: 3625

After class on Friday 11/08 I was left with some unresolved thoughts on what we can see versus want is actually out there. The colors on Europa is just one example of colors and, to our knowledge at least, no life to gain from them. The question that was raised in class today is: what purpose are they serving if not other living organisms?
This made me think about humans and the earth. What do we gain from the colors of the earth? We gain from the oxygen plants produce but do we gain from their green color? Are the colors really for use? Maybe the colors only exist in our minds, at least the way we see them, and if so, does it matter who/what they exist for? Do colors exist if we can't see them? I dare to state that if there is an answer, it is irrelevant.

the futility of improbability
Name: heidi
Date: 2002-11-09 00:28:25
Link to this Comment: 3626

The other topic that got me thinking is the sun becoming a less improbable assembly as time goes by. The sun is creating more and more improbable assemblies as it itself becomes more probable, but to what end?
Eventually the sun will explode. There cannot be life on the earth without the sun as we have determined (except for the few chemo-autotrophic organisms) so isn't nature killing itself in effect? What is the point of having very wide diversity if its all going to die in the end? What's the point...

Name: Sarah Tan
Date: 2002-11-09 17:12:46
Link to this Comment: 3627

Well, I'm going to bring up an alternative (strange) explanation for organisms having color when there isn't any light. Is it necessary to have light to be able to see? It's necessary for humans, but is it possible that there are other animals that can sense the colors, either by sight or something else? So maybe the colors, or the molecular arrangement that makes the colors exist, still have a purpose, just not one that we know about yet. Perhaps there are organisms that know what the colors "mean," in the same way that predators know not to stay away from wasps and bees, but those organisms may not base their judgements on light, but on something else by which the color molecules make their presence known. For that matter, do we know (I mean, I don't know) if there is proof that the animals on land who seem to make judgments on color can actually see color, or if they might possibly be going off on some other indicator that we haven't pinpointed yet.

Name: Mer
Date: 2002-11-10 10:19:37
Link to this Comment: 3629

I agree with Sarah that the colors of plants and animals deep in the ocean may have other uses than just for color. In the animal kingdom on land, many times color can be defensive, as a means to hide from an enemy, seem larger, or seem dangerous. But if the ocean is pitch black, what can the point of color, and how do we know it is there, and not just a reaction that our bodies create to cope with the darkness?

This also raises the point of how we all see color. I mean, if I say blue, do you see the same color? Is it a question of the limit of the metaphor that we all use to communicate (language)? Could it be a biological difference in how we all see?

Physical Response
Name: Katie Camp
Date: 2002-11-10 11:36:15
Link to this Comment: 3631

So back to the subject of emotions that's floating around our thoughts and forum entries. I talked last week about the fact that I think we can't control our emotions but the way in which we react to certain situations. Now, I'm attempting to figure out how our bodies react to certain emotions. Emotions seem to be a part of the abstract in our bags of chemicals. Yes, the production of certain chemicals and presence of different reactions results in different feelings (like the endorphins from exercise producing a "high" feeling, etc) but how do these chemical reactions relate to the burning pain in your heart when you feel so alone, the knots in your stomach right before you go on stage to perform, the weak feeling in your knees when you catch the glance of the person you love, or the feeling of being 10 times lighter than the moment before when you've finally finished that 15 page paper...
I guess I'm posing a question. Is it that specific chemical reactions that result in different emotional feelings are targeted at specific physical feelings and responses from the rest of the body or is it different for each person, then implying that there isn't really order or rythym to the whole emotional thing. I'm just rambling on about this because it's something crazy to think about. Professor Grobstein mentioned in class the other day that there might be some research to suggest that the feelings of emotions might actually be physically present in the but then what about those of us who feel things in their stomach, carry stress, anxiousness, etc in their neck and shoulders? Just something interesting to think about. We all are different people with separate genetics but is there something in emotions that is connected by us all being human??

Name: Chelsea Ph
Date: 2002-11-10 11:57:36
Link to this Comment: 3632

I wanted to respond to Anatasia's comment about controlling your emotions...I think she raises a really good point that because you can't predict everything that happens, like your mom gettting in an accident or your dad losing his job, even a conscious decision to be happy can't make you supress those emotions. In fact, I always wind up with my worst days if I try wake up in the morning and say, "well, I think I'll be happy today!" Inevitably life throws me something that knocks me off my feet those days. Yet, it isn't a bad thing not to be able to supress those emotions- I would say that being determinedly happy even in the face of tragedy would lead to a lot of guilt least for me. Anyway, I thought Anastasia made a really good point that the decisions made inside yourself don't necessarily give you any protection from outside events, and that's natural.

Name: Diana DiMu
Date: 2002-11-10 20:39:12
Link to this Comment: 3637

So I wanted to comment on two different people's reactions to Brie's initial comments about emotions. I thought Katie's comments about the production of certain chemicals and reactions based on certain physical feelings and responses is very true. She posed a really good question of whether there is something in emotions that is connected by us all being human. Well I think there is something about our physical responses to emotions or certain situations which is very similar in all humans. In high school I read this book called "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers." It explained a lot of what physically occurs in your body when certain things happen that are stressful. Like what happens when you have a heart attact. But it also explained the idea of "flight or fight." It was really interesting to read why when someone is afraid or in an emergency situation why they can suddenly run farther and faster than they ever have before, or why they seem to become much stronger. It talked a lot about the reaction of adrenaline in your body, and how your brain can increase blood flow to your legs when you need to run, or to your heart when you are having a heart attack. It explained why when you are really nervous or stressed, you often have more blood pumped to your lungs to help you breathe, or less to your stomach, giving you the sensation of "butterflies." So I guess no matter what cultural or genetic make-up someone has, there are some very basic physical reactions that everyone can have just by being human. It's pretty crazy to think about.

I also wanted to comment a little about Adrienne's comments about whether science can control our emotions, and if anti-depressants are really the answer to helping control our emotions. While I too, don't have any personal experience with taking medication for depression, I know several people who have and I'm not sure it's as simple as changing from sad to happy when taking anti-depressants. I have one friend who has tried to explain to me that taking anti-depressants often makes his general mood "more stable" but that it doesn't eliminate feelings of sadness or depression altogether. Many of my friends have also explained that medication alone is often not enough to help cure depression, even in cases when it is attributed to some sort of severe chemical imbalance. Often some kind of counselling or psychotherapy is needed in addition to medication to help solve the problem. So I think counselling in a way is just like a "buddy-system" for helping people cope with their emotions. I think Brie is right that no one has absolute control over their emotions but on the whole, most people have some minimal kind of control on how they display those emotions. I think when some people are depressed, they have a hightened inability to control how they express their emotions. It's scary too, because the few people I have spoken to about taking anti-depressants have addressed that they often have many side-effects that never occurred before they took the medications.

Name: Diana La F
Date: 2002-11-10 20:58:58
Link to this Comment: 3638

Ok, first to comment on Brie's post. I don't necessarily agree. I see the situation that she gave to be a little faulty. The person did not "control" their emotions, the circumstances did. Now, if the person had gotten a 3.9 and consciously decided to be upset and pessimistic (or however you spell that word), then they would have been controling their emotions to a certain extent. But you can't really control your emotions, they control you. You can try to put yourself into a mindframe where you feel a certain emotion and not another, but that's all we can do. And yes, that can be seen as controling your emotions, but it's not like we have a happy switch that we can turn on and off.

As for Will's comment, I happen to agree for one particular reason. I've been wondering since probable and improbable assemblies were brought up: isn't a rock an improbable assembly? My friend once found a rock that, I swear, looked like Richard Nixon. Or Walter Malthow, we couldn't decide which. Point is that this to me is an improbable assembly. Does that mean that this rock was alive?

Yay Sarah! Great thought! On a similar note, over the summer my friends and I got into a discussion about color. Yeah, I know, Long Island's a strange place. Anyway, we were wondering if everyone sees color the same way. Everyone agreed that my friend's shirt was red, but what if I was seeing a different color than everyone else? What if my red is actually what someone else would call blue, but I've grown up calling this particular shade red and so it is red to me? Would we ever be able to tell if the colors I see are exactly what someone else sees? Just the fact that some people are color blind proves that not everyone sees colors the same way.

Name: Catherine
Date: 2002-11-11 00:09:50
Link to this Comment: 3645

I wonder if we necessarily see color differently in the way Diana is thinking... perhaps we all see color slightly differently because no two people stand in the same light, see color from the same angle or perspective. It may seem even more likely that each of us see color differently, because we have to relate such information through words and actions, and interpretation relies entirely on the people who send and receive the information.

Name: Catherine
Date: 2002-11-11 00:09:55
Link to this Comment: 3646

I wonder if we necessarily see color differently in the way Diana is thinking... perhaps we all see color slightly differently because no two people stand in the same light, see color from the same angle or perspective. It may seem even more likely that each of us see color differently, because we have to relate such information through words and actions, and interpretation relies entirely on the people who send and receive the information.

beasts and other wooley things
Name: Chelsea
Date: 2002-11-11 16:15:28
Link to this Comment: 3672

ok, just wanted to reiterate that "beauty/beast" is not necessarily an improbable relationship, it would depend on the person and was just intended to be an example...I'm quite fond of beasts, actually...nice and fuzzy:) I always think prince charming looks like fabio and if I had the choice, I'd go for the beast any day. Not that I'm saying I'm a beauty and would have the choice- oh, never mind.

On a different note, I thought the conversation was really interesting in class today, even though we didn't get past the forum. The discussion regarding emotions and whether they are a product of culture or biology or both is really interesting. I personally think both, but wasn't there a web paper or two about emotion? What do those of you who did research think?

Name: Annie Sull
Date: 2002-11-12 00:31:49
Link to this Comment: 3689

Discussion in class today was lively and pretty interesting. Many of us seemed fascinated by the statements made about our sensory organs in relation to the true nature of the world around us. It is in fact, difficult to grasp the concept that the world as we perceive it is just that: a perception. Blueness, for example, is not an inherent quality of Professor Grobstein's shirt—is only the interaction between the shirt's molecules, light, and the organization of our eyes that creates the illusion of Blue. This reality raises an interesting, and perhaps philosophical question. Can we ever really know what IS, what the true nature of an object is, or how the world as we know it is distorted by our senses? Everything that we know about the nature of any object must be filtered through our senses. Does this process present us, human beings, with a realistic perception of the world? What is sound, color, taste, etc? These seem to be merely reactions, even opinions that can never deliver the truth. This puzzle will probably never find concrete answers, but it may be worthwhile to consider our own limitations in drawing conclusions and establishing the "facts" as we know them.

still MORE about emotions...
Name: Laura Bang
Date: 2002-11-12 17:29:42
Link to this Comment: 3704

     In response to Chelsea's question about whether emotions are biologically or culturally based...

     I did my web paper on emotions, and one of the things that I learned was that there is a place in the brain where emotions originate from. This place is called the prefrontal cortex and is located in the right hemisphere of the brain. I'm sure most of you know about the different attributes of the right and left hemispheres of the brain, but just in case you don't, here's a quick reminder (but just as a warning, I'm remembering this stuff from an 8th grade science project I did): for starters, the right hemisphere of the brain is in charge of the left side of your body, and the left hemisphere is in charge of the right side of your body. Secondly, the right hemisphere is associated with creative, aesthetic, artistic, and visual thinking as well as memories, whereas the left hemisphere is associated with logical, rational, and textual thinking. So since the center of emotions is located in the right hemisphere of the brain, it makes sense that the right hemisphere is the more "touchy-feely" half of the brain. Usually one of the brain's hemispheres is dominant, and usually the dominant hemisphere corresponds to which hand you use, so that someone who is right-handed is usually left-brain dominant and someone who is left-handed is usually right-brain dominant. So that's why left-handed people are usually more creative and artistic, and some famous examples are Mark Twain, M.C. Escher, Jimi Hendrix, Lewis Carroll, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Paul Simon, and me (though I'm not actually famous, at least not yet...). In reality, though, it doesn't really matter what hand you use, since I have a bunch of creative right-handed friends.

     So, what can we draw from this? That emotions are biologically based? Nope. I'm not done rambling yet...

     In spite of the fact that there is an emotional center in the brain, emotions are still influenced by what happens around us, by which I mean to say that culture influences emotions as well. Emotions are responses to external stimuli, and culture is definitely an external stimulus.

     If you want to learn more about whether emotions are biologically or culturally based, or both, then don't read my web paper. In my web paper I focused on how society says that emotional thinking is bad and we should use rational thought instead, but as it turns out emotions are a necessary part of rational thought. So if you want to know more about that, then read my web paper.

Smile! :-)

Name: Elizabeth
Date: 2002-11-12 22:07:40
Link to this Comment: 3711

Like Annie, I have wondered whether or not our experiences are colored by our individual senses. It's hard to tell if colors or other things look the same to all people, as we cannot see through other's eyes. A more concrete example of how varied our senses are: not everyone likes the same foods, as some meals just "taste bad" to individuals. But another person may enjoy the same taste. The same applies to music. Not everyone finds the same notes pleasing to their ears.

Name: Wil Frankl
Date: 2002-11-13 10:06:43
Link to this Comment: 3714

Is there reality outside/beyond personal perception? And if culture and society influence what is "personal", is there such a thing as personal or is there only an individually unique facet of culture? Here is a little thought experiment that is interesting, if not horrifically morbid. At birth, take two genetically different individuals and place them in complete isolation from others and even go so far as to place them in an environment devoid of any external object. Suppose that they grow up their entire lives without going completely insane. What is their "reality"? Now just ask yourself: is there any component of self that is not actually a conglomeration of the external. Thus, let's assume once and for all each individual person is nothing more than a unique amalgam of external experiences both cultural and environmental. Furthermore, let us assume that each of us is a unique set of genes (or unique organization of many bags within bags of molecules), which influences the way we interpret external experiences and subsequently making our personal perceptions that much more unique. Therefore, we can now agree that we are all unique because of the sum total of all our varied molecules and varied experiences. Yet we are all fundamentally defined by each other (shared culture and shared environments). Finally, back to my original question: Is there reality outside/beyond personal perception? And I would say, NO! Just consider the two locked in isolation. Now, you may want to argue that we can never know if there is "reality" outside of our perception, but I argue if we can never know it, then it is the same as if there is no "reality" outside our collective interpretations.

I just thought this was interesting...
Name: Laura Bang
Date: 2002-11-13 19:57:46
Link to this Comment: 3727

     This doesn't have anything to do with what we've been talking about lately (although it is about the mind/brain), but I just happened upon this poem the other day and thought it was worth sharing...


A theory if you hold it hard enough
And long enough gets rated as a creed:
Such as that flesh is something we can slough
So that the mind can be entirely freed.
Then when the arms and legs have atrophied,
And brain is all that's left of mortal stuff,
We can lie on the beach with the seaweed
And take our daily tide baths smooth and rough.
There once we lay as blobs of jellyfish
At evolution's opposite extreme.
But now as blobs of brain we'll lie and dream,
With only one vestigial creature wish:
Oh, may the tide be soon enough at high
To keep our abstract verse from being dry.

~ Robert Frost

Name: Margaret H
Date: 2002-11-14 01:51:53
Link to this Comment: 3729

Well, imagine my surprise when I came across this passage in my Political Philosophy reading: "The notion of what is "better," the more perfect condition at which the "perfectible" is to aim, remains quite indeterminate."
Hegel has more to say on the subject. "Perfectability, indeed, is something almost as indefinite as the concempt of mutability in general - it is without purpose or end, or without a standard for judging change." What do you know? Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (please say with a German accent) agrees with Professor Grobstein!! (Or is it the other way around?) Now, I realize many of our professors are very intelligent beings, but I was so psyched to find this in "The Philosophy of History," that I had to share it with our class.
Hegel has many other intresting points, such as using the term development suggests that there is an inner determination in the organism. Relating specifically to natural organisms, Hegel writes, "theirs is an existence that proceeds from an immutable inner principle- a simple essence . . . Natural organisms live in a continuous process of change . . producing itself, making itself into what it implicity is." Personally, it takes me a few hours and a bottle of Advil to understand what philosophers are saying. Since we've disucssed this before in class, I was able to comprehend Hegel's larger issues of History and the Universal Spirit. There have been a few select times where I have had information overlap in two or more classes, and it is so exciting.
Hopefully, this will remind us that science is more than test tubes and the periodic table. As Professor Grobstein said once in class, value judgements have no place in science. (I really really hope he said that. I apologize if I heard incorrectly.) And although Hegel seems to agree with Prof. Grobstein, what philosophy really teaches us is to examine the world around us. I'm glad the forum is here for us to share our continuous findings with each other.

Fatal alleles
Name: Erin Myers
Date: 2002-11-14 11:37:57
Link to this Comment: 3730

I overheard some people having a hard time understanding fatal recessive alleles yesterday in lab, it seems because they couldn't think of an example of a fatal recessive allele in humans. It's hard to think of examples because we never see prenatal lethal examples -- they don't survive.

While I was researching my web paper I discovered that 15% of pregnancies are miscarried in the embryonic stage (the first days of pregnancy). It is likely that some of these pregnancies end because of lethal alleles.

Dominant lethal alleles are quickly eliminated from the population, because they usually cause death before the individual can reproduce. But recessive lethal alleles can be passeed on from generation to generation because they only cause death in the homozygous recessive condition.

I've found an example of a human prenatal-lethal allele: Brachydactyly is a genetic condition in which the fingers are abnormally short in heterozygotes, but in homozygous recessive the condition is fatal due to major skeletal defects. Most fatal genetic disorders are the result of lethal alleles whether or not the death occurs in utero or later in life. Sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis (there is a rockin' cystic fibrosis essay in the web paper archive) are two such disorders considered to be caused by lethal recessive alleles that do not usually result in death until after birth.

I hope this has helped.

I hope that helped.

creativity and bi-polar
Name: Erin Myers
Date: 2002-11-14 11:49:23
Link to this Comment: 3731

It was mentioned in class that there seems to be a correlation between bi-polar disorder and creativity. This is total speculation, but perhaps because the right side of the brain controls both creativity and emotion, the chemical imbalance that causes bi-polar somehow increases creativity. Hmmm...

beyond us
Name: amanda mac
Date: 2002-11-14 14:18:29
Link to this Comment: 3734

responding to will's question about is there a reality beyond us? I think it is important to note that we have five sense, only five senses. Doesn't anyone ever consider the fact that there are other realities that don't exist to us due our limited amounted of senses? I always picture aliens to have different senses therefore causing them to live in different realities than we do. what if we can't percieve other elements that are occuring all the time? of course these are going to personal, we percieve the world through personal attributes.

5 Senses & Reality
Name: Wil Frankl
Date: 2002-11-14 15:38:58
Link to this Comment: 3735

I think Amanda has a very good point about how sense limits and shapes your reality and speaks directly to my thought experiment. Bees see ultra-violet light, we don't - they have a different reality. I can imagine that an alternate reality exist, but can I never know it. Therefore, imaging other realities and "knowing" them experencially are not really the same. On the other hand, two people from vastly diffent cultures also have slightly different realities and I would hope that they could imagine each other's so they would be tolerant of each other. Do democrats and rebulicans have different realities?

Fatal alleles continued
Name: Erin Myers
Date: 2002-11-14 16:31:15
Link to this Comment: 3739

Oops, big mistake (I think). . . I've thought about this all day and the lethal alleles we identified in lab must have been lethal dominant alleles, otherwise we wouldn't have been able to identify them. Lethal recessive allele's phenotypes are hard to identify if they kill the individual before birth.

So I've found an example of a human lethal dominant allele: Achondrplasia (dwarfism) is condition that is caused by a dominant allele that lethal when homozygous.

Bi-Polar = Creativity?
Name: Brenda
Date: 2002-11-14 22:36:27
Link to this Comment: 3741

I was thinking about what was said in class on Monday (I believe someone already mentioned this briefly), but I really cannot see how bi-polar disease is related to "creativity". I mean, what is creativity? Things are only creative when society or an individual sees something as such. So what is it that makes someone see something in such a way (and make something of it) and then have lots of other people see it in the same way as the artist (once it is finished) but not have the ability to see the piece themselves (why could they not have been the artist)?
So, what makes something art? What is creativity? I have seen acclaimed paintings which are nothing more than a black canvas with a single colored line through it. How is this creative, and something else not? How do our brains evolve to tell us what is creative, new, and what will become popular? Or is "inventing" going on all the time, and we only see the positive products, while the "failures" are shoved behind a curtain? Is this process 100% cultural, or is some of it biological? Is the brain involved, or just the sensory organs? Or none of the above?

X Recessive
Name: Brie Farle
Date: 2002-11-15 09:40:06
Link to this Comment: 3742

During the fly lab on Wednesday, Diana and I discovered that body color yellow is X-linked recessive. The process of discovering this perplexed us. Then, we learned that genes on the X can be recessive or dominant, and their expression in females and males is not the same because the genes on the Y chromosome do not exactly pair up with the genes on the X.

Thus, Yellow body color is expressed in females only if there are two Yellow color genes on their XX. Males only need one gene for Yellow on their X chromosome to appear yellow. So, a woman can carry a recessive gene on just one of her X chromosomes and not know it. Her son can be born expressing the recessive trait.

Diana and I believed that colorblindness in humans is a result of the same thing. I decided to check this out.

Apparently, Red-Green color blindness and Hemophilia A are X-linked recessive. Red-green color blindness means that a person cannot distinguish shades of red and green. Their ability to see is normal and there are no serious complications; however, affected individuals may not be considered for certain occupations involving transportation or the Armed Forces where color recognition is required. Because the gene is located on the X chromosome, males are affected 16 times more often than females.

Hemophilia A is a disorder where the blood cannot clot properly due to a deficiency of a clotting factor. This results in abnormally heavy bleeding that will not stop, even from a small cut. People with hemophilia A bruise easily and can have internal bleeding into their joints and muscles. Hemophilia A is seen in one in 10,000 live male births. Treatment is available by blood transfusion. Female carriers of the gene may show some mild signs such as bruising easily or taking longer than usual to stop bleeding when cut. However, not all female carriers present these symptoms. One third of all cases are thought to be new mutations in the family (not inherited from the mother).

Look at what new discoveries having forced flies to mate leads to!

You can check out the information above at :

Have a great weekend!

Bi-Polar and Creativity
Name: Adrienne
Date: 2002-11-15 18:45:57
Link to this Comment: 3748

That's a good point Erin, I hadn't thought of that as a cause of increased creativity. From my understanding of bi-polar disorder, it's almost as if the person has a split personality: their highs and lows can be so dramatic, they seem like a different person entirely. From what I have read, during the highs, there's also the feeling that they are unstoppable and a feeling of euphoria. I feel that these things contribute to the creative process because they put the person outside of themselves in a certain sense. In this other state they probably have access to different types of thoughts that can be more creative than normal.

Name: Diana La F
Date: 2002-11-16 09:25:46
Link to this Comment: 3755

In class of Friday something I thought was very interesting happened. For anyone who wasn't in class, I will explain. We went over some of the web papers and he people who were present gave a brief summery of what they thought were the main points of their paper. Grobstein tied my paper on tacit knoweldge (knowledge we don't know we have) to another paper on advretising and sex (the biological reasons behind what advertisers do). One of the things that was brought up was that when you are attracted to someone your pupils dialate. At this, everyone started looking around the room. Besides the two people sitting directly next to me NO ONE from class would make eye contact with me afterwards. Now, I'm not saying I'm trying to find out if anyone in class is attracted to me or not. I just have a strange habit of making eye contact with most everyone, or at least trying to. Even people I was talking to wouldn't make eye contact with me. Why was everyone so uncomfortable after that point? I would think that we instinctively should want people to know we are attracted to them, something like akin to the instinct of flight-or-fight: it's a survival technique in a way, only not for us to stay living but for us to continue the species. Why was everyone so uncomfortable after class?

*Oh, and Chelsea, I do love you...but only as a friend :-P

Name: kathryn ba
Date: 2002-11-16 21:19:45
Link to this Comment: 3758

Amanda's point that our five senses limit us to certain realities is very interesting. I was reading an article about how people may have multiple intelligences. The authors says that recent data supports the notion of mental modules, defined as, "fast-operating, relexlike, information-processing devices that seem impervious to the influence of other modules." He goes on to say, "The discovery of these modules has given rise to the view that there may be separate analytic devices involved in tasks like syntactic parsing, tonal recognition, or facial perception." I was wondering if the limits our five senses impose on us have anything to do with the different mental modules. Are the separate analytic devices a result of our five senses? Is a task such as facial perception influenced by the people have varying degrees of facial perception because of differences in the senses? More broadly, is the spectrum of intelligence directly related to the effectiveness of one's sensory input?

Brain malfunctions
Name: Billy the
Date: 2002-11-17 01:29:58
Link to this Comment: 3761

Sitting in class one day I had one of those little pricks that you get for no apparent reason on the bottom of my thigh. I'm always puzzled by those types of shocks or tweaks you feel when there seems to be nothing that would have caused it. Then I thought about discussions that always come up about whether anything around us is real or if it's just a large dream, etc., etc., etc. When you think about all of our sensory organs, the only way we detect things is through impulses in our brain. So these little pricks that I feel could easily be "dreamed up" in my brain, triggered but nothing more than some mis-communication in my brain, triggering my pain response in response to nothing other than a chemical malfunction in my brain. Does our brain screw up? It must, there are mutations in DNA, so something as large as our brain, made up of all that DNA, must have malfunctions every now and then. It's just really strange to think about that prick and think "Maybe nothing actually happened to my leg, but my brain just screwed up and made me think that." For anyone who's interested in that dream/life debate I highly suggest the movie "Waking Life", it's a fantastic collection of philosophical monologues done in really trippy animation based on the idea that brain activity continues for 6-8 minutes after death, so you can still think you're living after you die. Crazy stuff. Don't watch it high either, the animation will screw with your head.

heart cells
Name: kate amlin
Date: 2002-11-17 11:29:27
Link to this Comment: 3764

One of my roommates told me that each individual heart cell beats by itself and that if you put two individual heart cells near each other in a petri dish they will coordinate their beats. Now i'll admit that i know almost nothing about this type of biology, and from class it would make sense since cells are semi-autonomous and semi-homeostatic, but can anyone else confirm this?

Name: Diana Fern
Date: 2002-11-17 18:53:04
Link to this Comment: 3767

After the fly lab, I became interested in genetics and how certain traits get passed on. At found an article where a mouse embryo developed from a cloned mouse tumor. The cancerous gene was not passed on to the mouse embryo. How does this occur? How do some genes get passed on and others become part of a individuals genetic makeup.

messed up brain
Name: Diana La F
Date: 2002-11-17 19:39:12
Link to this Comment: 3768

Just wanted to reply to Will's question of if the brain can screw up. Remember, I'm the freak in the class who sees white lights flying through the air all the time: Yes, the brain can mess up.

Name: Diana DiMu
Date: 2002-11-17 20:32:10
Link to this Comment: 3770

Although I realize it's completely speculation, I thought Erin's idea that there might be a correlation between creativity and bi-polarness due to them both being on the right side of the brain is really interesting. I wonder how many things we do daily that are all directly correlated by being on the same side of the brain. Diseases of various kinds have the potential to change or affect our motor functions or general well-being. Why not then consider that mental illness or disorders affect our emotions, abilities, or even creativity? I'm not sure I agree with Brenda's assertion that things are only creative when society or an individual sees them as such. While everyone has the ability to create, part of being creative is making or doing something that is new or hasn't been done before, or maybe goes against previous beliefs or notions of what is accepted by society. For example, I hear Brenda on modern art. I remember seeing a lot of it when I was little and thinking "I can do that." But that wasn't the point, what made that art creative was that it was going against the already conceived notions of what art was supposed to be. Sure a lot of what gets into galleries or museums is what becomes popular, but there were plenty of artists that were not famous at all during their lifetimes and were still creative. Plenty of movements in art and literature were creating something different from what was perceived as popular or the norm. Most of those movements were famous because initially they were NOT popular by society. Does that make them failures or any less creative? There are millions of creative people out there who are making things you'll never see in a museum or store, but I don't think that makes creativity entirely dependent on society or popularity. Humans are by nature inquisitive and creative. But this is really getting off topic of my original ideas associated with Erin's idea about creativity and bi-polarness. I think it would be a really interesting argument or research endeavor to be able to determine whether some of the well-known artists were infact depressed or bi-polar. Take into consideration how many artists or writers committed suicide or were alcoholics or severely depressed. One of my favorite painters, Van Gogh, for instance painted some very beautiful but very foreboding paintings before he committed suicide. Sorry this is a sad note to end on, but hey I think it's worth considering.

Name: stephanie
Date: 2002-11-17 21:33:44
Link to this Comment: 3771

I was thinking about a lecture this week about how things fall apart and their move to different states of probability. Just thinking about all of the intricacies involved in something as simple as a breakdown of molecules makes you realize that things are far more complex than you could ever imagine. It strikes me that everything is so connected and that every single movement/change in your body is going to connect to something else and perhaps cause a chemical reaction in some other way. This goes back to another lecture given a while back on cholesterol levels and their relationship to behavior--something that (without investigation) would seemingly have ABSOLUTELY no relationship to cholesterol. It's almost scary knowing that every little thing you do affects the biological processes in your body, but I guess it makes complete sense. Life systems wouldn't exist unless these intricacies did and so its only fitting that any one change in your body will, inevitably, change something somewhere else. Wow, it's scary that biology really does make sense.

Name: Catherine
Date: 2002-11-18 01:41:02
Link to this Comment: 3772

I was thinking about someone's webpaper we discussed in class on Friday... we mentioned that people naturally respond to others they like by enlarging their pupils? I'm guessing that their pupils become smaller if they don't like someone? Is this at ALL controllable (I don't dislike anyone in the class, I am just wondering)?

Name: Mer
Date: 2002-11-18 02:58:23
Link to this Comment: 3773

I think that we are continually limited not only by our five senses, but also the language what we use to express these ideas. The phrase 'house' means different things to different people, based on personal experience. We are all taught that words serve as a metaphor for reality. How else can we even try to express our thoughts, wishes, or feelings. That being said, what is felt within the mind cannot ever be fully expressed without the other person actually being 'within' the mind. Since that unity with each other is not at the present available, we must do what we can with words and motions, realizing that even the best attempts at comprehesively conveying ourselves will ultimately fail.

Thus in terms of color as we have been discussing in class, it is impossible to know not only if we see the same color, but how close the two colors that we see are. The best thing that we can do is institutionalize the transaction of knowledge, otherwise known as schooling. Without some form of 'education,' be it official or a social education, we would never be able to attain the near-closeness of understanding each other that is available today.

Name: Sarah Tan
Date: 2002-11-18 03:10:08
Link to this Comment: 3774

As Mer said. I believe that the language used to express ideas is vitally important to the effective communication. The realities that we experience tend to be conveyed better by certain terminologies than other. In particular, there are multifarious examples of certain expressions which are easily expressed by one language that cannot be conceived by speakers of another one. Idioms and idiomatic expressions are one of the main problems in language translations because the connotation that accompanies one phrase may not be accurately conveyed by the translation. This is one of the problems in globalization, with diplomats understanding each other via another person. The realities of what each person hears and therefore experiences is different, and this is affected not only by language but by simply the fact that three different people are trying to talk together about the same thing without the appropriate means to do so.

Unintetional Ode to Science
Name: Tegan
Date: 2002-11-18 08:56:00
Link to this Comment: 3775

So I was reading Stephanie's message about the intricate interrelations all biological processes, how everything seems to affect everything else, in more complex ways than a person might at first imagine. And she's right: life wouldn't exist if these improbable assemblies we keep looking at didn't all connect to one another, in some way. I think it's one of the reasons I like science, even if I don't exactly consider myself a great scientist. There's a real beauty in the complexity of it, in observing seemingly unrelated phenomena interact and making some sense of what might look like chaos otherwise, knowing that is isn't chaos at all but rather a complex entity with parts interacting in ways one person couldn't begin to understand all on her own. Building on and refuting the observations of others before you to somehow contribute to a greater understanding of the world as we are able to perceive it.
Pardon the poetic ramblings. I've been up all night: my lack of sleep is facilitating an ode to science I don't think I intended, when I sat down here.

Emily Dickinson
Name: Chelsea
Date: 2002-11-18 15:50:43
Link to this Comment: 3780

Thinking about emotions, and feeling overwhelmed and helpless and stuff in general, I remembered two little poems I read once that I thought I'd share for anyone else who is feeling the same.

"It's all I have to bring to-day,
This, and my heart besides,
This, and my heart, and all the fields,
And all the meadows wide.
Be sure you count, should I forget,-
Some one the sun could tell,-
This, and my heart, and all the bees
Which in the clover dwell."


"If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain."

-Emily Dickinson

sleep deprivation
Name: Heather
Date: 2002-11-18 21:44:19
Link to this Comment: 3784

As the semester goes on I feel (okay, so really I know) that I get less and less sleep. And I'm always torn between going to bed and hoping my work will go faster tomorrow, and staying up all night trying to get it all done, no matter how slow. After awhile the second always seems to win because, honestly, I don't think it would be possible for me to ever really catch up on enough sleep to be REALLY productive. But I started thinking about this in connection with what we've been talking about in the forum with emotions and all. I know Bryn Mawr is a really stressful place, and we all do more homework than any three normal people really should have to, but do you think that, perhaps, our bad sleeping habits proport this? I mean, yea, they always make it worse. After any all nighter, I always find myself either really mean or (usually) really loopy come morning. But I think that this sleep deprivation that we put ourselves through contributes to the fact that most of us have a very hard time dealing with our emotions. Freshman year, my friend had a post-it note above her computer that said, "Work, Social Life, Sleep: Pick Two." Here, that's almost not funny because it's so true, but maybe if we picked up a little more of the third, the other two would run a lot smoother. Not that I can talk really, I've only gotten 2 hours of sleep a night lately, but it's still a good thought... ha ha.

Name: Laura Bang
Date: 2002-11-20 15:27:06
Link to this Comment: 3818

Thanks for sharing the neat poems, Chelsea!

And on the subject of sleep vs. work vs. social life, I am able to adequately balance all three. I try to get the same amount of sleep every night (about 7 or 8 hours) because that is really important in keeping you alert and healthy. As for work, I do my homework sporadically so that when I get sick of it I can spare 15 to 30 minutes (depending on how productive I've been) to do something for me every few hours, whether that's hanging out with my friends, or reading a book for fun, or going for a walk, or whatever I feel like doing. We all have a lot of work, but if you actually set aside time for yourself to be productive, you can definitely make room for some fun. I readily admit that I am not a social butterfly, I don't particularly like going to parties and stuff, but I make time for watching movie or just hanging out with my friends.

No matter what, you've got to make time for everything. If you don't, you will definitely suffer for it. Last year I had a lot more trouble with stress and since I had a history of a back problem, stress made it worse. (Let me tell you, you never want to injure your back -- it sucks!) Last year, I didn't really make the effort to balance everything and as a result I didn't have enough fun time for myself -- and fun time is just as important as sleep to your health, particularly your mental health. I know it's hard to balance everything, but I also know it is possible. So stop stressing so much and work in some fun time into your schedule. Good luck with whatever you have to do.

Name: Diana La F
Date: 2002-11-20 16:12:39
Link to this Comment: 3822

Reading the comments posted thus far a question, or rather a situation, comes to mind. I'm not really sure if it's stress-related.

Why are most people afraid to take chances? Seriously, why is there something that creates that flight-or-fight feeling when you talk to the person you're interested in, or that holds you back from saying something because you think people will laugh at you? Everyone gets this, no one is immune. Not saying something and similar situationsI can understand a little, society has bred us a certain way. But what about something seemingly harmless, like saying hello to someone you like? Situations like that, where it's just you and not anything society has tempered you with, why do they cause flight-or-fight feelings?

To me, this is more stressful than anything. Work, I can deal with. Tests, papers, they'll all end eventually, they aren't my life and they won't determine what happens to me drastically. These situations...they shape who we are and what we do, what experiences we have. But for the life of me, I can't really figure out why they matter.

Response to Diana's "stress"
Name: Wilfred Fr
Date: 2002-11-20 16:48:52
Link to this Comment: 3823

Diana's comments remind me of a line from a John Lenon song, "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans." I find this idea has resonance within science as well. Often the most interesting discoveries come when investigating something quite unrelated. I guess my point is... it is good to take action in the face of fear, ridicule and failure - chances are (like Diana says) it won't really matter in the long run. What really matters is what happens when your too busy "stressing."

black holes
Name: Diana La F
Date: 2002-11-20 22:09:02
Link to this Comment: 3830

Thought everyone might find this story interesting:

on stress
Name: Annie Sull
Date: 2002-11-22 09:59:49
Link to this Comment: 3843

I think everyone's comments ring true--especially at this point of the academic year, when we are just beginning to see "the end" of the semester. Too many of us bury ourselves in work, feeling guilty when we decide to do something which is not work-related. You all know it--we call it the "Bryn Mawr Syndrome" (probably the same at Haverford). Anyway, poor sleeping habits; are perhaps the key symptoms, and as we all seem to agree, the disadvantages of sleep deprivation seem to outweigh any benefits. I think this kind of behavior (staying up all night doing work and not finding enough time to relax or have fun) can easily become somewhat of a cycle that is exceedingly difficult to break. Human beings are creatures of habit; we like routine and predictability. Once we start accepting this kind of behavior as "normal," it becomes more difficult and uncomfortable to relax. I don't know what the exact solution to the "work load" or stress problem is, but I think Bryn Mawr would be a much happier place if we all put more value on "fun" or just simply relaxation. In doing so, I think we would all find a positive change in not only ourselves, but in the quality our work as well.

Me and the Apes
Name: Good Will
Date: 2002-11-22 15:31:55
Link to this Comment: 3846

Humans and monkeys (chimpanzees I believe) share 98.6% of the same DNA sequence, pretty much meaning we're almost identical in genetic code. But we obviously don't look the same, or at least not 98.6% the same. Learning about activation proteins that turn certain genes on and off has made this statistic more understandable. If we've got 98.6% of the same genetic make up, we don't necessarily express the same parts of that code, so we could actually only be expressing something like 90% of the same DNA. This isn't really the way that evolution works, but it seems like an alternative almost. If we evolved from monkeys, or pre-monkeys, maybe they shared almost the same genetic make up that we have today, but expressed different traits.

Name: kathryn ba
Date: 2002-11-22 19:53:49
Link to this Comment: 3850

I completely agree with Annie about being too involved in our work. It is unfortunate that Bryn Mawr, and many other colleges, seem to breed an expectation that students have to be crazed workaholics, even at the cost of physical, emotional, and social health. It should never be "normal" to spend 8 hours a day on homework, or to stay up the entire night writing a paper. I realize that school is important to us all, but why should sacrifice our sanity just to get good grades or to pass a class?

Name: Stephanie
Date: 2002-11-22 22:53:06
Link to this Comment: 3851

This brings up a lab from the week before, but I'm puzzling (dwelling, rather) over it still.

In the Fly Lab, we learned, among other things, how certain genetic traits are passed on and how you can predict them through the Punnett squares. While I know that the stuff we were working with is sort of based on some really basic Mendelian principles,and we certainly didn't cover the behavior of all genes, I kept thinking about how it relates to ourselves and our own genetic traits that were passed on from our parents.

The thing thats bothering me is this: When genes were passed on to offspring in the flies, the parents' traits were never "mixed"; for instance, a mother's yellow eye was never mixed with a father's red eye to make an orange eye. The traits were passed on as a whole so that the offspring either had red eyes or yellow eyes. However, this doesn't happen with humans and skin color. When, for example, a black mother and white father have a child, it is never either black or white, the skin color is a mixture of both. It seems way too unlikely, but does this actually mean that the genes are "mixing"? What's going on here? I feel like an idiot asking this but I really don't know the answer. Anyone?

The importance of living
Name: Laura Silv
Date: 2002-11-23 13:22:23
Link to this Comment: 3854

My first comment in like 3 weeks! I know I suck but I've been fluctuating between a fever of 102 and a really big cold. I'm getting better (really!) and this whole thing got me thinking - people seem to get sicker as the semester goes on! Why is that? Do people just take less and less care of themselves? Or is it the cold weather? Or more work, and therefore less brain space to remind you to dress warm? What is it? More stress equals less health? ACK!

Name: heidi
Date: 2002-11-23 22:12:04
Link to this Comment: 3856

In response to Laura's issue of whether or not stress and physical health are related, I would agree that they are. I remember learning in Psychology (this is high school psychology mind you so let there be no confusion about the inarticulate language) that stress weakens the antibodies in the body that are vital for physical health. Therefore, to keep yourself mentally healthy will do more for you than you may think. If anyone has anymore coherent information ön this topic please feel free to add.

Name: Catherine
Date: 2002-11-24 02:24:37
Link to this Comment: 3857

I have always had trouble balancing out work and play. My parents always tell me to play hard but work hard too; it's just that I always do one or the other. Playing hard makes me stress about work, so I decided to just take on work this year. If anyone wants to read about my experiment in work without [much] play, you can read my article on Anyway, basically, I do my work right after classes and I try to go to sleep every night between 12 and 1, and get up around 6:30 or 7. I feel like having a routine helps me feel refreshed every morning, and less stressed. Laura, you may want to try that... Also, I think that although stress from academics factors in a lot when it comes to physical health, there are other situations, like the dorm environment, that cause sickness.

Name: Mer
Date: 2002-11-24 10:42:26
Link to this Comment: 3858

In thinking about stress, I realized that much of the stress that we all in the bi-co complain about is self-created. We all cannot deal with not putting forth our best efforts. Is this such a bad thing? We are all in a sense perfectionists, and while we try to balance sleep, work, and having fun, all in all it is our own decisions that often create stress. I am not saying that BMC and HC are not hard - they are - but that the students on campus need to realize that in four years, it is the skills that you have learned (academic, social, etc.) and not that one paper your wrote that kept you up all night that is of the most importance. College is about bettering the mind AND soul, not just getting good grades.

The Benefits of Sleep
Name: Adrienne
Date: 2002-11-24 13:43:48
Link to this Comment: 3860

It's nice to actually see someone who leads a balanced life here, Laura. I agree with you on the importance of getting sleep and doing things for yourself. The amount of sleep you get per night is not only important for your productivity, it's an integral part of your health, as well. Doing things for yourself is just as important for your health, your mental health, that is. I had a professor say to our class once, "You're setting precident for your whole life here, live a little." I think that's great advice.

Milk does a body Good?
Name: Diana DiMu
Date: 2002-11-24 22:41:36
Link to this Comment: 3867

So I'm eating some oreos with my friends and I get a craving for a glass of milk. No problem right? Except usually when I drink a glass of milk I want to lay down on the floor because I feel like I'm going to die. I'm pretty lactose intolerant. I never used to understand why I could eat ice cream all summer long but one glass of milk sent me reeling. I looked around on the internet and I found out some interesting facts about lactose intolerancy:

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest significant amounts of lactose, the predominant sugar of milk. This inability results from a shortage of the enzyme lactase, which is normally produced by the cells that line the small intestine. Lactase breaks down milk sugar into simpler forms that can then be absorbed into the bloodstream.

I found out that while a glass of milk contains 11 grams of lactase, a serving of ice cream contains about half that amount in lactase. Foods with a higher fat content usually contain less lactase. So while skim milk may kill your stomach, cheeses or ice cream or cream may not affect someone who is lactose intolerant so badly.
Although milk and foods made from milk are the only natural sources, lactose is often added to prepared foods. People with very low tolerance for lactose should know about the many food products that may contain lactose, even in small amounts. Food products that may contain lactose include:

bread and other baked goods
processed breakfast cereals
instant potatoes, soups, and breakfast drinks
lunch meats (other than kosher)
salad dressings
candies and other snacks
mixes for pancakes, biscuits, and cookies

There are still plenty of foods you can eat if you want to get calcium and not worry about lactase like: oranges, green vegetables, beans and soy, or even lots of kinds of fish.

more on sleep
Name: Erin Myers
Date: 2002-11-24 23:09:52
Link to this Comment: 3868

Thursday and Friday were one day for me. My all-nighter turned into a 39 hour day. I mention this not only to brag but also to talk about sleep deprivation and its impact of the biological systems of the human body. One thing I noticed, but I don't know how to address, is the second wind phenomenon I observed around my 24th hour awake. Suddenly I wasn't dead tired anymore. I wasn't fully alert but I was wide awake, the way I think being on speed must feel (not a good feeling -- DON'T DO DRUGS!).

Anyhoo, about the effects of sleep deprivation on health. . . Sleep deprivation weakens the immune system. Sleep deprivation also causes stress which in turn weakens the immune system--two strikes for the immune system. In additon to effects on the immune system, a reduced capacity for metabolic functions has been observed as have memory difficulties, poor performance at work, and problems concentrating. It seems that sleep deprevation just slows everything down making your whole body less efficient. Ironically, you probably stayed up late trying to increase efficiency.

I couldn't find as much info as I would have liked on the biological rather than psychological effects of sleep deprivation, but there was a good web paper from 2000 and this article was mediocre and very general.

Name: Sarah
Date: 2002-11-25 03:18:47
Link to this Comment: 3872

In regard to Erin's comment about her 39 hour day, I was thinking that one of the contributing factors to stress on this campus is this perverse pride that a lot of Mawrters have in how much they suffer for their studies. There is a definite sense of accomplishment in telling other people how little sleep we've gotten or how long it's been since we last slept. And why is it "better" that someone has seven papers due in a week as opposed to five? Maybe Bryn Mawr isn't necessarily competitive in terms of grades, but there's definitely competition in vying over who has more work to do in the shortest period of time. It's almost like people under the most stress get admiration instead of sympathy, which may or may not be healthy. I tend to think that it's more unhealthy than healthy. What happens when sleeping through or falling asleep in class isn't looked down upon anymore because everyone does it or has to do it? I personally have only pulled one all-nighter in my three semesters of college, and I was practically a zombie for the following week (it was on a Sunday night). Maybe other people can deal with sleep-deprivation better than I can, but I really can't imagine not sleeping in order to study and then taking a major test afterwards. My mind would be completely fuzzy, and caffeine can only help so much, generally one night, because after that it loses effect. In short, I think that we're putting the wrong issues as priorities, which is detrimental to the overall sanity of the students at this college.

Name: Maggie
Date: 2002-11-25 12:28:40
Link to this Comment: 3875

I completely agree with Sarah about how our own attitudes about our workload increase the general atmosphere of stress on campus. Two of my good friends are taking a science-heavy class load with two labs, and they won't stop comparing how much work they have and how little sleep they get. Then when I'm around, and my only contribution is "My work is fine" they complain about how easy my classes are in comparison. I have papers to write too, but I procrastinate less than they do. I don't see the point in comparing my work to theirs because we're taking very different classes. Sure, I'm tempted to say I have as much as they have, but what's the point? It won't get my work done, or make any of us feel better about our work load. Sometimes it does make me feel like I'm working less than they are when they think I don't ever have work because I'm not as stressed as they are. I think this type of comparison is Bryn Mawr's replacement for grade competition, since we're not allowed to talk about grades. The majority of Mawrtyrs being driven and competitive, we feel like we have to compare ourselves to our classmates somehow. In a way, I think this type of competition is just as damaging as comparing grades.

ants are cool
Name: kate
Date: 2002-12-01 11:55:40
Link to this Comment: 3919

South American Army Ants live in bivouacs, forming superorganisms that act communally. These colossal amalgamations of ants work together to find food, construct shelter and maintain their societies. What if humans focused more on the community and less on the individual? Would there be less hunger? Less conflict? Just a thought. Happy Break!

Hunger and Sleep
Name: Laura Silv
Date: 2002-12-01 16:03:27
Link to this Comment: 3921

I've been looking at my sleep patterns lately, and I've noticed something very strange. It seems that, for me anyway, it's a lot easier to go to bed later rather than wake up earlier. My body seems to have a predisposition to go to bed late. I can get myself into the habit of going to sleep by 12 and waking up by 8 or 8:30, but if I stay up later than 12 just once, or sleep later than 8:30 one time, I won't get to sleep the next evening until 2 or 3 am, I'll wake up at 11 or noon and all my good work will be ruined. And of course, my sleep patters affect hunger. If I'm in bed by midnight, I can get by with eating a full dinner at 6 pm and a small snack (like an apple or something) for the evening. But when my sleeping patterns get screwy, dinner at 6 is more like "lunch" than "dinner" because there's so much time left in the day. Does this make any sense to anyone?

work and sleep
Name: heidi
Date: 2002-12-01 22:48:08
Link to this Comment: 3925

I have to agre with Laura about the sleeping pattern. For me it is also easier to go to sleep later than wake up early. I think this might be more psychological than one might think. If I think back to when I was a child (say before 14) I was out of bed at the krack of dawn and in bed with the sun. If you take a look now at older people (say anything after 40- i didnt say "Old" mind you) they seem to develop back to this pattern.
Here's my hypothesis: I know from myself and from other students my age that we are never really done working. There is no finish line if you will. Through that, it is hard to got to sleep with so much to do. When we had to get up, however, we are so tired that we care more about our sleep at that point.
After 40, most people have a regulated daily schedual. Here it is not important to say up and do work, at least this is the case with most jobs. right?
well, we are at that age when for us work is more important than sleep (or am i wrong?).

Date: 2002-12-01 22:50:09
Link to this Comment: 3926

sorry, i definately meant that i was in bed with the setting of the sun. wow...

eye twitching
Name: heidi
Date: 2002-12-01 22:54:40
Link to this Comment: 3927

There is one more thing that i wanted to adresse. I have recently been experiencing this weird twitching under my eye. I remember having this some years back but never really took the time to find out what it was. Can anyone halp me out? Is it connected to sleep or something like that?

sore throats and such...
Name: Roma
Date: 2002-12-03 12:13:20
Link to this Comment: 3937

Walking around Bryn Mawr it's quite evident that colds and sore throats are taking their toll on mawrters. Sneezing, coughing, not being able to speak and the consistent fevers have become a part of everyday life. The health center is giving flu shots at an increased rate.
Every single friend of mine seems to have suffered or is suffering from sore throat and coughing, and I myself have not been spared.
So what exactly is a sore throat? Sore throat is a symptom of many medical disorders. Infections cause the majority of sore throats and are contagious. Infections are caused either by viruses such as the flu, the common cold, mononucleosis, or by bacteria such as strep, mycoplasma, or hemophilus. While bacteria respond to antibiotics, viruses do not.
Most viral sore throats accompany flu or colds along with a stuffy, runny nose, sneezing, and generalized aches and pains. These viruses are highly contagious and spread quickly, especially in winter. The body builds antibodies that destroy the virus, a process that takes about a week. Whooping cough, canker sores, fever blisters, even measles follow. And in some extreme cases, "mono" can be seen, specially amongst college students, since the atmosphere is so conducive to spreading of viral infections etc.
Best option is to go for prevention and get a flu shot as early as possible. I was asked how effective flu shots are and while I don't know the exact workings behind a flu shot, I told my friend it would work like any other vaccine and she would never know till she got one herself and isn't prevention always better than cure? Why endure the pain and misery when you can prevent it?

Smokey Den of Sin
Name: Mande Macl
Date: 2002-12-03 14:56:37
Link to this Comment: 3942

Looking at our lab today in which we discussed locaitonal communites and their differances i discovered that these differances are apart of eth conditions in which these locaitons offer. For example, my room is very warm and smokey making it hard for me to stay awake therefore my surrounding affects the way i feel. so, if everyone stopped talkign about their work adn made their room like mine then we coudl all sleep.

Name: Diana Isab
Date: 2002-12-03 15:08:05
Link to this Comment: 3946

I am from new mexico and the only plants i could keep alive were cacti, i found this interesting because my lab partner and i chose deserts as our biological community to study. The fact that even i could keep a cactus alive says a lot for its fortitude and ability to withstand harsh conditions, including my smoky room.
Hey and here is a special holiday cactus:

Name: Kyla
Date: 2002-12-03 15:30:19
Link to this Comment: 3948

To answer Heidi's comment from above (I know it was awhile ago): I've actually heard that as we go through different stages of development, our natural sleep patterns change. Actually, the first time I heard about it was at my admissions interview for Bryn Mawr. My interviewer told me that children typically wake up at five am and go to bed at eight. As you grow into your teens your body functions better if you go to sleep and wake up later in the day. By the time you're our age, the best thing to do is to go to sleep at one or two and wake up at ten or eleven am. Makes sense to me!

on sleeping
Name: Annie Sull
Date: 2002-12-03 15:51:43
Link to this Comment: 3950

On the subject of sleeping--this seems to be a very popular topic of discussion at Bryn Mawr, since most of us never seem to get enough. As Laura and Heidi have noted, it's easy to become accustomed to a particular sleeping pattern--and when such patterns are disrupted, other seemingly unrelated aspects of our lives also change (eating habits, stress level, etc). It really is strange how interconnected all of our biological functions and lifestyle habits are. Most of the time, we don't even realize this relationship until we make a small change that yields greater results in different, surprising areas of our lives.

Another weird thought: When I start thinking and analyzing my sleep habits, I find that I'll usually end up feeing worse physically. Once I acknowledge my sleep deprivation, I psychologically start to feel more fatigued and sluggish. It's much better, I find, to NOT count your hours of sleep or think too much about how behind you are on sleep. Again, the connection between the mind and body, here, is quite evident.

Name: Anastasia
Date: 2002-12-04 11:04:38
Link to this Comment: 3953

To comment on the point that we always have work and we never reach an end to the work we are doing, I think it is necessary to set limits on yourself in order to succeed in a healthy life. What I do, maybe this will help some people, is I make a list of all the work that I know about that I have due. Then I make a second list of the work that I am going to complete that particular day. If I complete this work, and feel like doing more I do. If I don't feel like doing anymore than what I had written on my list, then I don't. That way you feel as if you have accomplished something and you complete assignments. It is also important to get the little assignments out of the way. You know, the ones that just nag you to death and they are really unimportant in the big picture. If they are done, then you don't have to worry about them and it reduces the amount of work that you have. Also, I find it is helpful to work ahead. If I know the work that I have for a class due on Friday I start it on Monday and complete it early in the week. Don't start it Thursday night at midnight. This also helps to reduce the stress levels you put yourself under. I don't know, maybe that will help some people.

Secondly I just want to comment on what we talked about in class yesterday. I can't believe that our bodies perform stuff like the Krebs Cycle. It seems so complicated and it is only one of the things our body does. I just think that is pretty impressive.

Name: kathryn ba
Date: 2002-12-04 13:41:03
Link to this Comment: 3954

I am also perplexed by eye twitching. Why does this happen? It seems like my eyes twitch whenever I don't get enough sleep or I am really stressed out. Although this only happens off and on for a few day period, it is pretty bothersome. Does this have anything to do with eye strain? Is it related to twitching in the leg or arm after a hard workout. Is it a sign that one might need glasses?

Name: Michele Do
Date: 2002-12-04 14:32:15
Link to this Comment: 3958

All this discussion about sleep, but why? Is it really that deep? Yes, I know that sleep affects thinking, performance, and general disposition. But think about it, we only have one life to live. As far as we know, we have our whole after-life to enjoy sleep without any interruptions. So stop complaining! You'll get used to it by the time you're a senior....if you want to graduate at least. All this talk about not getting any sleep and you could be doing your work, so you can sleep- without that paper or test hanging over you- worry free! So pop your no-doze, drink your coffee, and quit your whining! This sleep deprivation will pay off in the future!

eye twitching
Name: The doctor
Date: 2002-12-04 17:08:57
Link to this Comment: 3969

Ok, nothing really interesting to post, I just want to help with the eye twitching. when your muscles twitch anywhere (except after strenuous exercise, of course), it usually means you need potassuim. Eat a banana and call me in the morning ;)

Randomness... :-)
Name: Laura Bang
Date: 2002-12-04 19:51:29
Link to this Comment: 3972

A few things...

Flu shots: Personally, I'm a huge fan of flu shots. See, I've had the flu (or at least a cold) every Christmas since I can remember, and it sucks! (One year I was so sick, I didn't even feel like opening my presents!) But last year, I got a flu shot and I didn't get sick! :-) So I got a flu shot yesterday, and hopefully I won't get sick again this year. But, of course, flu shots do not guarantee that you won't get the flu. But it does give you a better chance of not getting it. And, of course, it also helps to make sure you get enough vitamin C and wash your hands a lot. :-)

Sleep: Okay, I personally think sleep is a good thing. Sure, it's annoying when you have a lot of work to do, but if we didn't have sleep at all, we wouldn't have dreams. Now I never remember my dreams for more than a minute after I wake up, but that first minute when I wake up and have that fleeting glimpse of a nice dream gives my day a sort of magical start. :-)

Stress: Okay, all I have to say on this topic is: GOOD LUCK with all your exams and/or papers! You will survive, and everything will be okay -- we're Mawrters, that's what we do best: survive stress. ;-) And after this we have a lovely month off -- for hanging out with friends back home, and seeing your family, and curling up by a fire with a cup of hot chocolate (or just curling up with a cup of hot chocolate if, like me, you are from a place where winter is not that cold), and doing whatever you want to do for a whole month. We can make it!

Name: Catherine
Date: 2002-12-05 00:56:32
Link to this Comment: 3977

Since a lot of us seem to be discussing problems:

Once in awhile I notice that my hands shake/tremor very badly, and it seems to have nothing to do with caffeine or physical exertion on that part of my body. Why does this happen?
I thought it may be sleep-related, perhaps, but I couldn't really find any evidence of it. Also, someone suggested that it may be hereditary, but my parents definitely do not have this problem. Maybe it's nutrition?

Stress and Sleep
Name: Adrienne
Date: 2002-12-05 23:54:21
Link to this Comment: 3985

I completely agree with you, Anastasia. Everyone should set reasonable limits on their work to reduce stress. I also like to make a list and plan what I am going to do on a particular day. I think that this really lowers your stress level, which contributes to your health. It is simply unhealthy to get very little sleep or worry excessively. Our bodies need sleep-it's a scientific fact

Name: Diana La F
Date: 2002-12-06 00:30:21
Link to this Comment: 3987

Tonight I sang my solo at the last chorale rehearsal before our concert. I got up in front of everyone and sang my song. Even though I know I've worked this song to death, even though I know I shouldn't be nervous and mentally really am not, my heart beat like I just ran a marathon and my breath came short...etc. You know the drill on that. When you sing, you can hear the nervousness in the voice, so not being nervous at all would greatly improve my performance. I'm trying to figure out why my body felt so nervous even though I really wasn't? How can this be?

2 things
Name: Roma
Date: 2002-12-06 12:55:22
Link to this Comment: 3988

I don't think we have to pull all-nighters and undergo severe sleep deprivation to do well in our undergraduate careers at bryn mawr, it is true that bryn mawr works us very hard and we do tend to stay up late to study once in a while but that's just once in a while, it shouldn't become a habit. Personally I think it's quite possible to get my work done by midnight if I actually study instead of taking breaks every now and then to check email or answer IMs or just stare at my computer which can add up to a lot of wasted time, resulting in guilt and my staying up till 3am to get my work done and then having to wake up by 9am for class. It's all about organization and not procrastinating, but how many of us actually do NOT procrastinate?
I don't know if it makes sense for people our age to go to bed later and then wake up later, after all, when we enter the workplace, we'll have to wake up by 8am at the very least if we're gonna follow the usual nine-to-five work routine. So when we're thirty and have a job (hopefully!), how is it gonna work if we go to bed at say 4am and then wake up around noon? I think the human body functions best when we go to bed early and rise early as well, after all research shows that the human brain works best during early morning and is not that alert during the afternoon.

Name: Sarah
Date: 2002-12-06 15:55:28
Link to this Comment: 3989

I also got sick over Thanksgiving break, some kind of massive cold that sucked the life out of me. And during that time, I needed so much more sleep than I usually do, even given that I had to "make up" sleep lost from before the break. There was one night I slept 15 hours and still woke up tired, and normally I can't sleep past 9 hours or so, even when I try. So the body also needs extra sleep on top of the regular necessary amount when it's not doing so well. I haven't done any research on this, though I think there've been a couple of web papers on sleep and sleep deprivation, but I am curious to know more about what goes on during sleep that the body needs more of it when it's under the weather.

sleep patterns
Name: katie c.
Date: 2002-12-07 12:31:47
Link to this Comment: 3996

so i was reading over what kyla had to say about the development of our sleeping patterns...
and i guess it all makes sense to me. but why does it matter when we sleep if we get the right amount? and i guess in general we can all make the assumption that humans develop into such patterns naturally, but i also think that sleeping times, etc is individual and perhaps even cultural (which i know we've all talked about is culture biologically determined???)
here are my reasons for questioning this...
i function best when i go to bed at 10 and wake up at 6. i love being up in the morning, getting things done and feeling like i've accomplished stuff before the whole day is gone. and i often feel the tiredest around 10 and the only way i can stay up later is to force myself awake until i pass 12 and i'm wired because of adreniline, etc.
and colorado...bed times are just naturally earlier. granted, yes, most high school and college students are up for forever and a day at night, but the news comes on at 10, most families are in bed soon after that...whereas here on the east coast, tv shows are on later, cities are alive later into the night, etc. so maybe it's geography or just the people who populate each region that determine the sleeping culture, but i also think that there are plenty of people all across the board so one sleeping pattern that's best at a certain age can't quite be determined...

Name: Bill Nye t
Date: 2002-12-07 13:13:24
Link to this Comment: 3997

I'm glad the twitching thing came up. The Friday before Thanksgiving my right bicep decided to develop it's own irregular heart beat. The palpatations were irregular in strength and rhythm. It honestly felt like I had a heart in my bicep, and you could see it twitching - pretty cool actually. Anyway, I had heard about the potassium thing that Diana mentioned, but I felt like this wasn't really my muscle but my bracheal artery. I was under the impression that potassium helped with muscle twitching, and since it really felt like mine was artery-related, potassium shouldn't have necessarily helped. Is there another kind of twitching or did it just feel like it wasn't my muscle but it actually was? Anyway, so I went on a potassium eating rush because the twitching was actually quite annoying. I found out that bananas don't actually contain that much potassium, despite the legend that places them as the best source. Better sources of potassium are milk (skim is actually better than whole), potatoes, oats, fish, raisins, dates, and lots of your good veggies that I never eat enough of.
I love snow.

dream on
Name: Chelsea
Date: 2002-12-07 13:57:39
Link to this Comment: 3998

Ok, thanks to Jodi:P here's my dream-

Once upon a time in my head,
Dudley Moore was horribly in love with me. We got on a space ship to save the world, and were joined by
Professor Grobstein
, who I learned, had been the one to first introduce us. After we saved the world, the space ship turned into the magic school bus. Dudley proposed to me while all these little kids ran around screaming and Prof. Grobstein knitted an afghan. The end.

I think it must have been something I ate.

Ok, but seriously, are dreams a defense mechanism? Not this one, obviously, unless I really just needed to be entertained, but I have dreams all the time that something I'm worried about or am waiting to happen actually does and things turn out that my brain's way of shielding itself from anxiety? I remember having the greatest dream one night, then realizing it was only a dream and waking up...but into the same dream, and having that really relieved feeling of "oh, it was real!" until i really did wake up...but what if we never do? Has anyone seen waking life? or dark city? it's really scary sometimes what our subconscious can convince the rest of our brain and body is real and what isn't- how would we ever know?

something you ate?
Name: Brie Farle
Date: 2002-12-08 11:11:13
Link to this Comment: 4003

I'd like to comment on Chelsea's speculation that "it must have been something I ate." Yesterday, I attended a Nutrition Conference in Paoli, and I learned some very interesting, and disturbing things. Did you know that 99% of Americans are nutrient deficient? Did you know that almost any time something happens to your skin (break out, dry skin, etc.) it originated in your belly? Did you know that 80% of kids with ADD have a yeast problem? I learned that sugar is to yeast like water is to a plant. As soon as you give a child that already has a yeast problem some sugar, you are just complicating the matter. Instead of treating the symptoms, maybe someone should help these kids with yeast problems??!
Most health problems of any kind can be traced back to something in your diet. There is plenty more information, but it all boils down to eating nutrient dense foods. This doesn't eliminate meat, it doesn't say avoid chocolate- but there are good choices you can make when you eat meat, and good ways to eat nutrient-dense chocolate. The bookshop sells organic dark chocolate! Don't go to Wendys!
The biggest myth uncovered at the conference was that fat isn't bad for you! The average American consumes an added 32 tsp. of sugar every day! When you consider what you're eating to be important-that you really are what you eat, and that there are consequences (visible or not) to everything you put in your body, it should be clear that fat is not the enemy! Sugar is! Eat nuts over pretzels! I know this is a ton of information, but just open your eyes before you open your mouths! Eat healthy to keep your body going so that you don't crash after taking your finals and writing your papers! I know I want to have fun at New Years, don't you?! Then, we can all imbibe on wine-red wine-which has nutrients, too!

Date: 2002-12-08 13:09:08
Link to this Comment: 4004

I wrote one of my papers about dreams, and there are some theories which envision dreams as a defense mechanism, or as a "testing ground" for conflicts one may face in daily life. Some believe that in prehistoric times, cave men initially dreamt of the numerous struggles which threatened their survival in an attempt to try out different lines of defense without actually having to be in the moment. Now, since we aren't so preoccupied with survival, we instead have dreams which play out different emotinal scenarios.

Name: Elizabeth
Date: 2002-12-08 13:09:50
Link to this Comment: 4005

Sorry, forgot to put my name on that last post.

Spastic Boombastic
Name: diana dimu
Date: 2002-12-08 17:03:52
Link to this Comment: 4006

Hey, to answer some of your questions about eyes twitching or eye spasms, I did some searching on the internet and found out that the condition is called Blepharospasm, also known as eye twitch or eye spasm. It is the repetitive contraction of eyelid muscles in a rhythmic fashion.
In some instances, the eyelid may repeatedly close or attempt to close. The most common causes of muscle twitching in the eyelid are fatigue, stress, and caffeine. Once the spasms begin, they may continue intermittently for a day to more than a week, then disappear. Most people experience this type of eyelid twitch on occasion and find it extremely annoying. It usually stops suddenly, without even noticing it.
More severe contractions with closure of the eyelid are thought to be caused by irritation of the surface of the eye (cornea), or the membranes lining the eyelids (conjunctival irritation). This type of eyelid twitching is common, especially in certain seasons.
Another form of blepharospasm, lasts much longer, is very uncomfortable, and can close the eyelids completely. Now stop and think about that one; that's a pretty damn scary thing to consider.

Name: Chelsea W.
Date: 2002-12-09 00:20:39
Link to this Comment: 4009

I'm personally an advocate of getting enough sleep -- not that I always manage to by any stretch of the imagination, so maybe I'm something of a hypocrite too, but anyway I do try to remember that sleep is important. If I don't get enough sleep, I don't end up awake enough to really enjoy things or to be clear-thinking and efficiently productive. And, I know that if I become too tired, things which needn't be become overwhelming or depressing.
Also, as far as the sleep patterns of people our age ... I do tend to believe that for a lot of us it does feel more natural to go to bed late and get up late (tho probably not for all of us, and I'm not sure to what extent this is biological and to what extent this is the result of psychological and social conditions). I know that I naturally function that way, so I intentionally avoid scheduling myself for early morning classes when possible.

Name: Sarah
Date: 2002-12-09 01:19:25
Link to this Comment: 4013

I have a couple fairly unrelated comments to add:

(1) My first comment pertains to Kate's observation about the way ants act in a fashion akin to communism in order to better the community instead of the individual ( The Once and Future King?). I agree that it sounds nice, but if I have learned anything from modern economics ( the readings upon readings that refrence the oh so praised invisible hand phenomenon) it is that working for the good of the individual is often also best for the community. The most lucrative ( not just monetarily speaking, of course, economics simply most clearly states the way such a theory works) scenario is often one which employs of individuals working in groups in the the name of self interest ( Beautiful Mind anyone?).

(2) Secondly, I wanted to suggest that people look in the paper today- there was an article about the changing weather. The article outlines the prediction that as a result of increased global warming, a chilling phenomenon will ocurr. Researchers expect that the northeast will become colder as a result of the changed run off..... well, its a little complicated and you can look up the article online. My point is merely that this drives home a point Grobstein has been serving to us most consistantly in class and lab: at all levels ( from the cells we looked at in lab, to the biomes we saw on the internet) smaller units are connected in a delicately and deeply intertwined sytem that funstions as whole ( the cells are arranged differently, the biomes are dependent on an equelibrium of abiotic and biotic features). Just another reminder that we have to pay attention to how we treat the earth and the things that live on it because everything is interdependent ( although, I will recognize the ability of things to adapt in some cases) and thus everything is inherently gravely important.

> pause here, while I unwrap my arms from the tree I am sitting next to<

(3) Although I promised myself going into this I would not help to perpetuate the dialog on sleep and stress that seems to saturate everything associated with Bryn Mawr, I find myself irresistably drawn to the crowd and overwhelmed with an urge to join the in the mass soiree- so I will briefly, for your sake, share my thoughts on the whole subject (which may or may not work for you, its simply an offering up of my mantra):
Relax!!! Enjoy your time. Sleep when you feel tired and worn... stay up when you are excited about what your doing. Take joy for your work and remember that you are choosing ( and paying) to be here. We are young and liberated and sitting in one of the best schools in the nation with our entire lives and before us. Carpe Diem! Get wrapped up in it, revel in it, walk into it swinging! And if at the end of the day, if your frayed and tired, think about what in the world, at this moment, you would choose to be doing with your time... and just maybe you will find you are living it.

Name: amanda mac
Date: 2002-12-10 14:56:31
Link to this Comment: 4030

after lab today i realized that ants are very interesting bugs. a friend informed me that some species of ants pretend they are dead, so that when carried to other colonies, they can wake up and eat teh queen. taking over teh colony. also, through lab we discovered in the ant expereiment that selfish ants tend to take over populations fo altruisitc ones. is this similar to human nature? and if so, is this inherent in all animal nature?

Name: Anastasia
Date: 2002-12-10 16:33:47
Link to this Comment: 4035

Just wanted to say that for those of you who dont think that sleep is important, it has been proven that you can die from lack of sleep.

Anyway, I was thinking about how animals lie in communities. What attracts those animals to those communities? And what attracks humans to communities? It seems that animals and humans are attracted to things that they are familiar with, but I have found that humans sometimes are attracted to different things that they are unfamiliar with. Why is that?

tryptophan, milk, and sleep
Name: heidi
Date: 2002-12-10 17:03:06
Link to this Comment: 4037

one more comment about sleep. It seems to be THE issue lately.
Personally I didn't sleep last night. Eventhough I went to bed at 1:30 i could not fall asleep. This would not worry me too much if it had not been the 4 time in 2 weeks. I don't know what the problem is, you would think that my mind would appreciate the chance to rest but instead it wont even let me take napes.
I talked to my father and here is some fatherly advice for anyone experiencing the same unsettling scary phenomenon: get some milk from the dining hall, warm it up, and drink it 20 min before you go to bed. Apparently it contains the amino acid Trypophan (C11H12N2O2)
that calms the nerves in the brain. Aside from its role as one of the limiting amino acids in protein metabolism, tryptophan serves as a precursor for the synthesis of neurotransmitters (like serotonin), as well as for the synthesis of the vitamin nicotinic acid and the hormone melatonin. Through involvement in several pathways, tryptophan regulates neurobehavioral effects, such as appetite, sleeping-waking rhythm and pain perception as well.
Try it!

more sleep theory
Name: Maggie
Date: 2002-12-10 20:34:51
Link to this Comment: 4040

I know that there are theories about how we go through stages of growth that cause different sleep patterns. But I really think we have more control over our sleep schedule than those theories imply. When I was in high school I generally slept from midnight until 8, a rather run-of-the-mill sleep schedule. Last year I got sucked into staying up ridiculously late (3:00 was average) and sleeping right up until I had to get up for class (with maybe a nap later in the day). Now this year, mostly because of my friends, I generally wake up and go to sleep earlier than I did in high school. I've never had difficulty adjusting to different sleep schedules. I think mostly you just have to put up with a few days of getting up while you're dead tired. Then eventually your body will get tired when you need to go to bed instead of when it is used to going to bed. At least, that has been my experience...

Name: Diana Fern
Date: 2002-12-12 00:50:37
Link to this Comment: 4057

My friend who is doing her thesis on ants told me that ther is a type of parasitic ant that pretends that it is dead, so that ants of a different species will pick it up and bring it back to the hill. The ant then, having cleverly infiltrated the hill, will kill the queen and assume domination of the hill. I never realized to what extent other creatures will go to perpetuate their line!

Name: kathryn ba
Date: 2002-12-12 16:38:02
Link to this Comment: 4059

I had no idea that there were parasitic ants that play dead to infiltrate another ant hill. I cannot escape the thought that this tactic is a bit extreme. Why would an ant want to take over another ant hill? What is wrong with their own ant hill? Do these types of ants have a queen ant who sends them out to conquer other ant hills? I realize this tactic promotes the perpetuation and expansion of the parasitic ant's line, but couldn't this get out of hand? What happens when all of the ant hills have been taken over by these parasitic ants? Do the other types of ants live or are they killed by the parasitic ants? Perhaps I am having difficulty understanding the point of this tactic because I am a pacifist. What is wrong with cohabitation...why must some organisms wish to be all powerful, akin to the Romans and the US?

the end .... ?
Name: Paul Grobstein
Date: 2002-12-13 09:09:01
Link to this Comment: 4083

Thanks to all for an enjoyable and stimulating semester thinking together about what life is all about. I'm sorry we didn't get further than we did but ... learning, like life, is ongoing, and I hope we laid some good groundwork for going on thinking about life.

How about one last set of thoughts, so we know were we are now? What aspect of our conversation has most changed how you think about life? And what aspect of life do you still find least understandable?

Best to everyone as you go on exploring/evolving/shaping life for yourselves and all other living organisms.

Name: Laura Bang
Date: 2002-12-13 13:38:09
Link to this Comment: 4086

This has been an awesome class, and I am so glad I took it. Discussions like we had are a sure way to make science fun, especially for us non-science people. :-) I enjoyed so much of what we learned, because we didn't just learn it by learning facts, we learned by thinking about those facts, and also applying them in the labs.

I really enjoyed our discussions about emotion, and I had a lot of fun with that topic for my second web paper.

However, what has always fascinated me the most is space. So I most enjoyed our conversations in the first week or two, when we looked at things on a large scale. The sky -- both day and night, but particularly night -- has always amazed me. It is so beautiful and mysterious from where we stand -- and also from what we see from satellites. Whether or not the universe is infinite, it is still a beautiful and truly awesome thing. (For my last web paper, I chose to look at dark matter and the end of the universe -- somewhat morbid, yes, but also fascinating!)

GOOD LUCK on finals, and remember to RELAX over break!! :-)

Last day
Name: Adrienne
Date: 2002-12-13 16:05:02
Link to this Comment: 4088

Since this is the day of the last class, I'd like to mention that I'm also glad that I took this course. As a humanities major, I've always struggled with science courses. This has been the first science class that has been accessible to me. I've actually been able to understand the material and that's a great feeling. And, it's also been very interesting as well.

Name: Catherine
Date: 2002-12-14 14:34:50
Link to this Comment: 4092

I really enjoyed this class. Some of the materials we covered, I had supposedly learned in high school but never really understood. It made me want to take more science classes.
On the other hand, the one issue that has become more complex and confusing for me since the beginning of the semester is evolution. But now I am tying it in more with other non-sciency topics, and I see that it is not just about "survival of the fittest".
Thank you, Professor Grobstein, and thanks to my peers for a wonderful semester.

Name: Brie Farle
Date: 2002-12-15 11:37:38
Link to this Comment: 4099

Thanks Professor Grobstein, and Wil, too, for an enlightening semester. I knew I was in a good class when a large photo of Redwood City, CA was projected on the big screen! I've always been interested in biology, but never dedicated enough to officially pursue it as a major. However, my specialty being Anthropology, I have been forewarned that biology is inescapable. In fact, my thesis topic is based loosely on Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, which is very much about being aware of biology. This class has assured me that biological knowledge is critical to better self-understanding, especially in realizing the place of humans in the world. It's good to know that although I may be one of the few people freaking out about food and the hidden dangers present in the environment surrounding us, I won't be the only person who hasn't completely forgotten the fact that the earth matters. Happy Holidays!

DNA twins and chetahs
Name: heidi
Date: 2002-12-15 11:58:25
Link to this Comment: 4100

I just wanted to add my name to the thankful students who were enriched by this duo of wonderful men. Thanks guys!
Before I go, one more entry:
We have been talking alot about DNA and how twins have the same DNA. I understand that they are not identical, but would their finger prints be?For instance, if one of the two commits murder, would they be able to distinguish between the two. Similairly with the chitah. I heared that they all have identical DNA with the only exception being the difference between females and males. Is that true?

Name: Anastasia
Date: 2002-12-16 17:28:01
Link to this Comment: 4112

I thought this class ended with a great discussion. It was so interesting to learn about DNA and proteins and all the info about how your hand lives even though it is not attached to your body. And I just had one last question for everyone. Is it possible to ever do anything that is not selfish? I mean, Will, I know your buddha freinds would disagree with me, but I think it is impossible. Everything has an alterior motive. People of course do things because they care about people, but there is always something else there that leads us to do things. Kind of interesting, yet a little upsetting.

Also, thanks for a great class. It really was a great experience and I think we all learned a lot!!

Biological Diversity
Name: Michele Do
Date: 2002-12-16 21:43:50
Link to this Comment: 4115

In my opinion, learning about biological diversity was the most interesting part of this class. I have always valued diversity, but before this class I never really looked at it from a biological perspective. I think it's so interesting that individuals and groups of individuals are diverse allowing specific groups to be better biologically equipped to deal with certain environments, diseases, etc. Before BIO-103 I always advocated diversity from a sociological persepctive, however, now I can also use Natural Selection in my argument.

Name: Maggie
Date: 2002-12-17 13:19:00
Link to this Comment: 4123

I also wanted to add to the chorus of students praising the course. Biology has never been taught to me with such an open-minded perspective. In answer to Heidi's question, I'm pretty sure that identical twins have different fingerprints, but that they have striking similarities. Unfortunately, I can't give you a reference for where I learned/heard that.

I'm doing my last paper on what the chances are of genetic research/biotechnology ever advancing to the point where same sex couples can have children that are the biological children of BOTH parents. One thing that has stuck out in the research so far is that it seems like it will be easier for that to happen with men couples instead of female couples. For some reason, that struck me as odd...and I just thought I'd share it.

Name: Diana DiMu
Date: 2002-12-17 13:31:02
Link to this Comment: 4126

"What aspect of our conversation has most changed how you think about life?"

Well to be honest, the aspect of our conversations that has most changed how I view life, (and science in particular) is the encouragement in our class to make mistakes and take chances. I learned through the course that it was okay to make a hypothesis and come out completely wrong. I had still learned something and had taken a chance about what I thought. In fact, one of the most valuable lessons of the course proved to be that I learned MORE when I was WRONG than when my ideas were initially correct. Thanks Professor Grobstein and the rest of the class for making discussions laid back and extremely humorous. By putting the class at ease, I think it encouraged myself and other students to take more chances and care less about being wrong in front of others. Good luck and happy holidays.

Name: stephanie
Date: 2002-12-19 00:37:00
Link to this Comment: 4141

I would also like to mention that this has been an absolutely wonderful class, especially as an incoming freshman. Unfortunately, I now have this insanely huge standard about Bryn Mawr courses that I'm wondering if my next courses can match? We'll see. Again, thanks for such a thought-provoking class. I have to agree with Diana in that perhaps the most important thing I learned through this course was that it is not only OK to be wrong, but highly encouraged. And that if you ever KNOW you're right, then something's probably wrong. That idea has left me with such a great impression of science and its non existent boundaries.

Thank you for opening the "wrong" door for me, Prof. Grobstein.

(**And also to Will, too--labs have been extremely interesting and the fastest three hour class I think I'll ever have.)

Name: stephanie
Date: 2002-12-19 00:37:50
Link to this Comment: 4142

I would also like to mention that this has been an absolutely wonderful class, especially as an incoming freshman. Unfortunately, I now have this insanely huge standard about Bryn Mawr courses that I'm wondering if my next courses can match? We'll see. Again, thanks for such a thought-provoking class. I have to agree with Diana in that perhaps the most important thing I learned through this course was that it is not only OK to be wrong, but highly encouraged. And that if you ever KNOW you're right, then something's probably wrong. That idea has left me with such a great impression of science and its non existent boundaries.

Thank you for opening the "wrong" door for me, Prof. Grobstein.

(**And also to Will, too--labs have been extremely interesting and the fastest three hour class I think I'll ever have.)

thanks, etc.
Name: Chelsea
Date: 2002-12-19 10:01:49
Link to this Comment: 4146

Hi all! I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus saying thank you for a wonderful semester. Getting to know you all was a wonderful, relaxing experience which gave me a lot of perspective this semester. Thank you, Prof. Grobstein for always encouraging us to be wrong, and to Wil for all of your enthusiasm.

I wanted to say something about our discussion of selflessness. We (humans), have a very negative connotation with the word 'selfish' but is selfishness always a bad thing? You can do something good for someone out of selfish reasons, one of which can be because it makes YOU feel better. This, by definition is a selfish thing to do, but it isn't negative because you've helped someone while you helped yourself. So I guess I'm trying to say that we may all have ulterior motives, but it's okay and we shouldn't feel guilty if we're motivated to do something nice because it makes us feel good as well.

Have a wonderful break, everyone!

Name: Wil Frankl
Date: 2002-12-19 11:52:29
Link to this Comment: 4149

I was reading Chelsea's comments on selfishness and something new struck me. Basically, I agree with her...Maybe selfishness is not a "zero-sum" game. Perhaps, being selfish in a symbiotic/mutualistic way can result in a win-win situation...perhaps selfish-cooperation is a "non-zero-sum" activity. Thank you all for helping me make new connections like this. I love to expand the WEB. Hope you all continue your life long journey of exploration. Cheers!

end of class
Name: Brenda Zer
Date: 2002-12-19 17:33:50
Link to this Comment: 4157

Well, I must say that while this class was not my favorite, it has definitly allowed me to see some different and interesting perspectives. Over-all the experience has been good. I hope so see some of you next year, and I hope that those who were did not enjoy science before are slightly more interested!
I wish everyone Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year (and good luck with finals!!)

science courses
Name: Natalya K
Date: 2003-09-05 13:51:31
Link to this Comment: 6350

I think science is tremendously interesting, my only objection to it is that at higher levels it turns into math and I've always had a lot of trouble with math.

"There's life here!"
Name: Natalya
Date: 2003-09-05 14:01:20
Link to this Comment: 6351

It is hard to define life without refering to human life as a model. Therefore, I would define living things as performing one or more of these life functions:
-eating (loosely defined to include photosynthesis, kemosynthesis, etc.)

To command a gasp, a Europan life form would need to do something similar to what a living creature on earth would do or possess a characteristic living creatures on earth possess. The more animal or plantlike the space creature is, the more easily if could be classified as life. Life forms that live, act, look very different would be more difficult to classify as living. I remember hearing somewhere that when asked to draw a creative space creature the vast majority of people included two eyes a nose and mouth in their drawings. This is just to give an idea of how easily peoples' imaginations can be restricted by their points of reference.

Life on Mars
Name: La Toiya L
Date: 2003-09-07 22:56:45
Link to this Comment: 6365

Life on Mars?
Although to some it seems a question of absurdity and irrelevant to Biology; I think it's a question that starts to help us think outside of the "traditional" approaches to science and life in general. It's also a topic that challenges scientist and everyday people to think about Science less as a set of concrete norms and more as observations, observations that encompass reality. Reality that often excedes the boundaries of what most people consider "truth." I think finding, accepting, and understanding life on mars whether it's little green people with large black eyes, or plants is an excellent way for scientist and humanity as a whole to step into the next generation open-minded and less restricted by the set traditional boundaries of science and life.

Defining "Life"
Name: Natalya Kr
Date: 2003-09-10 20:24:27
Link to this Comment: 6420

As an example of how different disciplines interelate, here is the way educational theorist John Dewey says characterizes "life" in his book, Democracy and Education (I'm not sure how to underline in this format): "The most notable distinction between living and inanimate things is that the former maintain themselves by renewal . . . as long as it [the living thing] endures it struggles to use surrounding energies in its own behalf . . . the primary ineluctable [inevitable] facts of birth and death of each one of the constituent members in a social group determine the necessity of education . . . society exists through a process of transmission quite as much as biological life." Is what he is implying that society relies on education the same way that biological life depends on energy?

Name: Rochelle
Date: 2003-09-13 20:45:55
Link to this Comment: 6466

I think that diversity is a very important thing within life and living organisms. Diversity is more than black and white, it is the diference in vision and ideas that we posess when someone speaks something to us. It is the different interpretation we have when we read words off a page. Diversity is what makes life interesting.

Name: Justine
Date: 2003-09-17 08:17:49
Link to this Comment: 6505

In the lab yesterday it seemed to me that when it was time for the presentation of the results, each group had a different perspective on what made the experiment successful. Some of the groups established new "order" by creating categories and others used the current "order" or they did not create categories. The meeting of these two different ways of thinking caused conflict. Why is it that people cannot accept two methods or more of solving a solution? Why does it have to be cut and dry? In science it seems like maybe in the process of trying to get things "less wrong" there is a tendency to pursue a certain way of thinking rather than keeping all options open. Justine

Name: Rochelle
Date: 2003-09-22 00:07:37
Link to this Comment: 6561

The first two labs that we did for our class reminded me of a previoous biology class where I wrote a short paper on phylogeny and classification. I enjoyed what I learned in my earlier class, but I feel what I got to do in the lab enabled me see how serious the job of someone who has to classify organisms really is.

Natalya Krimgold
Date: 2003-09-24 09:56:27
Link to this Comment: 6605

I think Laura made a very good point in lab on Tuesday when she pointed out that it was difficult to make a disprovable hypothesis for the lab because it was covering already-charted territory. We all knew that larger organisms are not necessarily made up of larger cells, but only in a vague sort of way and this was reflected in our hypotheses. We wanted our hypotheses to relfect what we knew. After hearing the presentations it became clear that it was more helpful to make a definite, disprovable hypothesis even if you knew that it could be wrong than to make a vague one which reflects all the possibilities you could accept as being true.

Natalya Krimgold
Date: 2003-09-25 18:17:17
Link to this Comment: 6633

In response to the question posed during class "If there are other life forms in the universe, are they like us?", I think that if the planet on which the life forms live is similar to Earth, it seems likely that life forms on that planet would develop similar adaptations, otherwise it seems more likely that they would develop differently. The interesting question to me is, would these other life forms be recognizable to us as living if they have developed completely different from us. Could a life form on another planet exhibit few or none of the list of characteristics generated in class to describe living organisms and still somehow be living, just in a very different way?

Name: Rochelle
Date: 2003-09-29 02:26:05
Link to this Comment: 6665

I wrote my web paper on germs. While researching the material I started thinking about our discussions on life and what is life? and I found it interesting that i actually stopped to think about germs, ther lives and their roles they play in our lives.

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