Sunday, February 28, 2010

Triskaidekaphobia


It has been passed down through generations that the number 13 is unlucky. The fear of the number 13 is called triskaidekaphobia and is apparently everywhere: office buildings, parking spots, airport gates, and office numbers. The number 13th is thought of as to be taboo, and extremely unlucky. However, is it really that unlucky?


First off, no matter what you call it, the number after 12 is still 13. You can pretend that it is the 14th floor, or 14th parking spot, but in reality it is still the 13th. Even William Shakespeare stated in his play Romeo and Juliet, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” In this situation, the number 14 would become just as unlucky as the number 13. This, however, has not happened.

Where did this fear of the number 13 come from?


Some say it is because when counting on fingers and feet, you can only get up to the number 12. The number 13, therefore, is unknown and the unknown must be unlucky. Others say it is because Judas was the 13
th disciple to come to the last supper which lead him to betray Jesus.

On the other hand, the ancient Egyptians felt the number 13 was very lucky. The 13th rung of their ladder to immortality lead to paradise. Also, the number 1 +3=4 which is the number of security.


The number 13 is not necessarily unlucky, and those who believe it suffer from triskaidekaphobia- the fear of the number 13.





Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?Superstitions,-Numerology-and-the-Number-13---Is-it-Really-Bad-Luck?&id=2327815

Can Cows Predict Weather?


Predicting the weather is difficult for people to do, but apparently cows are pretty good at it. Although cows are not considered intelligent animals, their ability to predict the weather has been a belief for many years. In the old days, farmers spent a lot of time with their cows and started to "communicate" with them. One example is when a cow did not produce milk, the farmer took it as a sign that rain was coming. The farmers did not, however, take any other variables into account.
According to Donna Daniels, cows like to be near one another. When the weather is nice, cows feel confident being alone and will spread out. However, when a storm is coming, cows will herd together. The closer the cows are, the more severe the storm. Also, Daniels states that if a cow is restless in the stall, they are trying to tell humans to beware of weather changes.
The Farmers' Almanac does not believe that cows accurately predict the weather. "Cows lying down in a field more often means they’re chewing their cud, rather than preparing for raindrops." The Almanac also mentions other myths about cows including the idea that cows produce better milk when listening to jazz music. These claims have not been proven to be true. Even if cows and weather have a positive correlation, there is no proof that one directly affects the other.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

It goes to 11...not 666


By: Robert Haviland

In households across the world parents have said things like, "Turn that crap off!" or "Can't you listen to real music?" Various religious groups have touted the music of youth time and time again as instrumets of the devil himself, most noteable being, Rock 'N Roll. Rock bands from the world over have responded to this accusation of heresy to the kingdom of Christendom with lyrics that would make even those with the strongest of faith shutter in fear of the dark lord some bands seem to worship. Who is right? Tenacious D sings that, "Rock is not the devil's work. It's Magical and Rad." Yet we have all heard about Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil, thus spawning the birth of the Blues.

Perhaps the best place to decide if Rock is indeed the work of the devil, would be the of course within, The Bible. While the bible does not specifically state in any way the words; Rock N Roll, Rock and Roll, Rock Music or any synonim therof, there are many chapters that organisations such as Bible Truths will say eludes to and refrences rock music and it's debaucharous ways. However in no way does that make the end all and be all of this case.

I think however that it is more of a catylist to open people up to a world that seems to be filled with sin, after all they don't say "Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'N Roll" for nothing. While Rock Music does tend to include reigns of blood and highways to hell. I don't see the devil shredding licks on a Gibson. Yet apparently Satan and can take many forms, so who knows? If Satan is hiding among us using Rock and Roll as his tool for domination. I'd say he's Dio.

Friday, February 26, 2010

2012: Really, It's Just a Movie

Approximately every ten years, there comes along a very real threat centering around the apocalypse. In the 1990s, there was planetary alignment. Then we dealt with y2k. This time around, people around the globe are sitting and waiting for the next religious cult movement filled with crazies who are certain that the world is going to end in 2012.

While it should be apparent that we, as rational sentient human beings, should finally adopt a "been there, done that" attitude on this whole silly end of the world thing, unfortunately, we haven't. Even more disappointing is that the History channel, which is more often than not assumed to be a viable source of information, has also jumped on the crazy theory train. And any effective cult leader knows: It's easier to scare the hell out of people when they trust you first. Embarrassingly, I was one of those people.

This was, of course, until I discovered that the History channel seems to be romantically enamored with doomsday theories on the whole and has a different documentary for every single idea ever proposed by anyone anywhere. Why? Because it makes money. Bravo, History channel, you sly dog, you.

Fortunately, to counterbalance the lying harlot that is the History channel, we have words of wisdom from National Geographic. What can we learn from this, now?

Well. I don't know about you, but I suppose this means that the world's not allowed to end until National Geographic says it can.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Is Friday the 13th really unlucky?


Friday the 13th occurs when the thirteen day of the month falls on a Friday. It's an inavoidable day that falls every year at least once and at the most can occur three times in one year. Any month's thirteen day will fall on a Friday when the month begins on a Sunday. If we can anticipate this day to occur at least once a year, why are so many people terrified of it?

The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia, a word derived from the Greek words meaning Friday, thirteen, and phobia. Although there is evidence, dating back to before the 19th century, that the number thirteen and the day Friday were both considered unlucky, there was no link to connect them together. Written in a biography about an Italian composer named Gioachino Rossini, shows a possible link between the two superstitions:

"[Rossini] was surrounded to the last by admiring and affectionate friends; and if it be true that, like so many other Italians, he regarded Friday as an unlucky day, and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that on Friday, the 13th of November, he died".

There is evidence as to where this myth comes from. Some will refuse to go to work, others will not eat at restaurants, and some would never dare to set a wedding date for Friday the 13th; this superstition occurs in the minds of each individual.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Can a sneeze be fatal?

Sneezing is the nose's reaction to a nasal irritation. It is a perfectly normal occurrence, but many people believe that it can be harmful and deserves much more attention. This belief might stem from the 6th century, when the Black Plague killed half of the population of Europe. Sneezing was one of the symptoms of the Black Plague, and indicated that the person would die soon. As a result, people would say "bless you" or "God bless you", in the hopes that the person would not die from the infection. Many would say it because it was a common belief that when a person sneezed, their heart would stop momentarily and they would essentially be dead for a couple of seconds.
Although it appears that the heart has indeed stopped during a sneeze, this is actually not true. It does affect the cardiovascular system, but the heart never stops; it causes a change in pressure in the chest. When you inhale before the sneeze, the pressure increases and as you exhale forcefully, the pressure rapidly drops, which affects the heart's rhythm. There might be a delay between beats, but the heart has not actually stopped. The delay might be a cause for concern for some, but it is a common occurance that is rarely harmful.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Global Warming Myth

Medieval Warm Period - 9th to 13th Centuries
Norse seafaring and colonization around the North Atlantic at the end of the 9th century indicated that regional North Atlantic climate was warmer during medieval times than during the cooler "Little Ice Age" of the 15th - 19th centuries. As paleoclimatic records have become more numerous, it has become apparent that "Medieval Warm Period" or "Medieval Optimum" temperatures were warmer over the Northern Hemisphere than during the subsequent "Little Ice Age", and also comparable to temperatures during the early 20th century. The regional patterns and the magnitude of this warmth remain an area of active research because the data become sparse going back in time prior to the last four centuries.

The plot below, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report (2007), shows numerous Northern Hemisphere paleoclimatic temperature reconstructions. The various studies differ in methodology, and in the underlying paleoclimate proxy data utilized, but all reconstruct the same basic pattern of cool "Little Ice Age", warmer "Medieval Warm Period", and still warmer late 20th and 21st century temperatures. In summary, it appears that the late 20th and early 21st centuries are likely the warmest period the Earth has seen in at least 1200 years. For a summary of the latest available research on the nature of climate during the "Medieval Warm Period", please see Box 6.4 of the IPCC 2007 Palaeoclimate chapter. To learn more about the "Medieval Warm Period", please read this review published in Climatic Change, written by M.K. Hughes and H.F. Diaz. Discussion of the last 2,000 years, including the Medieval Warm Period, and regional patterns and uncertainties, appears in the National Research Council Report titled "Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years", available from the National Academy Press.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Crystal Healing


Crystal healers allege that gemstones carry "vibrational rates" and that when placed within your aura your vibrational rate changes as well. It is suggested that simply wearing high quality round beads around the neck can have significant benefits, but healers warn that if metal surrounds the gemstone the benefits are greatly reduced or eliminated completely.
The fancier techniques of crystal healing, however, are not so simple as donning a fancy necklace but rather seeking a crystal healer who will work with the gemstones in the context of your chakras. The "healer" may also arrange the crystals around the body in order to create an "energy grid" which then surrounds the subject with "healing energy."
So what is all this healing energy supposed to do? (Besides nothing, we'll be there in a moment). Crystal healing claims to remove blockages in your aura (uh-huh), as well as in the body's electromagnetic field (right). Some practitioners use laser quartz wands which may be used to perform "psychic surgery" (oh yes, it exists). One crystal healer lists her personal experience on her website (where she also sells her services and gemstones) and claims that these therapies have energized and healed her; from breaking bad habits, to healing dog bites, she claims they have changed her life. To see a list of many gemstones and their therapeutic properties click here.
There is evidence that crystal healing or at least the belief in the power of gemstones has existed for quite some time in several cultures, such as the Hopi Indians, the Hawaiian islanders, the Egyptians and Chinese (both fond of Jade) and Asians drawn to the emerald. We often see that these bogus therapies are promoted because of their Eastern histories or how "ancient" they are, the same holds true for crystal healing which also has ties to other occult medicines such as Chakra therapy. Much of the "results" are deduced to be the placebo effect, and nothing more. In fact, studies down with both real and fake quartz crystals showed no difference in results.
An interesting tidbit; Marcel Vogel, former IBM research scientist, is a proponent of this jargon claiming, "The crystal is a neutral object whose inner structure exhibits a state of perfection and balance. Like a laser, it radiates energy in a coherent, highly concentrated form, and this energy may be transmitted into objects or people at will. With proper training, a healer using a crystal can release negative thoughtforms which have taken shape as disease patterns." Whatever you say, Marc.
So now, what do you think about this video and its claims? (If it works, *fingers crossed*).

video

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Is UFO-ology a Pseudoscience?


It is argued that the first UFO sightings can be traced back to 593 BC, in the Book of Ezekiel. In one of the passages, Ezekiel describes what many believe was a UFO sighting: “This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel.” (Ezekiel 1:16) And the most recent possible sighting happened just days ago in Florence, Kentucky. However, is there any hard scientific evidence to prove these are alien spaceships, or is this just another example of pseudoscience? There are people in the world today who have chosen to dedicate their lives to the study and discovery of UFOs and extraterrestrial life. Unfortunately for them, there are many skeptics who say that this entire field of study is baloney. Technically speaking, there has never been a case in which someone has successfully proved a UFO to be an alien spaceship, or a case in which aliens were discovered, at least that we know of. These researchers, also called UFOlogists, have no real scientific evidence to study besides examining pictures, videos, and sending signals into space trying to contact someone or something. In a time where everyone has access to a computer with video editing software it’s hard to call any picture or video credible. I came across some “evidence” that was flat out ridiculous, while some pictures and videos were somewhat believable.

Despite all of the critics, can this actually be considered an area of real science? If you take into consideration the size of the universe and number of stars, it’s hard to believe there isn’t any form of intelligent life somewhere else. Most scientists estimate there are over 100 billion stars in our universe, but are unsure of how many planets revolve around each. With those kinds of numbers, odds are there has got to be another planet out there with some form of intelligent life. But what are the odds they are as intelligent, or even more intelligent than we are?


Full Moon

When I was younger my grandmother would always tell me to be careful when a full moon was out. Werewolf movies helped to reinforce what my grandmother said because they help put the idea in my head that there was a link between human behavior and the moon. It wasn’t till I got older that I realized that strange things happening had nothing to do with the moon

Why do so, many people think that a full moon has to do with bad things happening? People like to link such things as murders, suicides and car accidents with a full moon. If the human body is mostly water shouldn’t a full moon affect humans? No because water in people is bounded and the moon only affects unbounded water. Just like many of the myths that we have talk about in class this myth has no scientific evidence to back it up. When something strange happens when a full moon is out people are more likely to beware of that the moon then they are if something strange happens when a full moon is not out.

The media has a tendency to reinforce this myth by reporting strange things that have happen during a full moon. Also many movies have been made about people Turing into werewolf’s during a full moon, perhaps people tend to believe that the moon affects human behavior because we see the moon affecting human behavior so, much in the media. Perhaps people believe this myth is true because they are told it is true at a young age. A full moon might not affect human behavior like I once thought, but I still like to watch the werewolf movies

You're Giving Me Gray Hair!

Do you remember your parent saying to you, "Your giving my gray hairs!" Well after reading this blog, you can go back and tell them the real cause behind those grays. For so long now people have blamed their gray hairs on stress. Between juggling work and family life, people assume that with that stress comes gray hairs. This is not entirely the whole truth. The two main causes for gray hair is... age and genetics.



Melanin is the pigment in our hair that gives it color. As we get older, we lose melanin. With this lose of color we end up with gray hair. It has been stated in an article about the causes of gray hair, "Dr. Desmond Tobin, professor of cell biology from the University of Bradford in England, suggests that the hair follicle has a “melanogentic clock” which slows down or stops melanocyte activity, thus decreasing the pigment our hair receives. This occurs just before the hair is preparing to fall out or shed, so the roots always look pale."http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/grayhair.html



Genetics play a role by determining what age you begin to go gray. There is such a thing as "premature graying". Some people do begin to see gray hairs in their twenties and thirties. If your parents began going gray in their younger years, then your chances are premature graying are just as high.



Overall, age is the main reason for production of gray hair. It has been stated, "Your chance of going gray increases 10-20% every decade after 30 years." http://www.disabled-world.com/health/dermatology/hair/gray-hair-causes.php While there may be other factors that icrease the risk of gray hair, age and genetics are the ones to blame. We must face it... gray hair is a part of getting older and getting older is a part of life.

By: Brandi Reinhard

There is little doubt that everyone at some point in their life have heard someone tell them to wait an hour after they eat before swimming to avoid getting cramps causing you to sink and drown. Often as kids we are led to believe that if we set foot in water after the smallest meal that we will be struck with these infamous life-threatening cramps. It is sometimes when dealing with children it is perfectly acceptable to over-exaggerate dangers. According to snopes.com, this possible over-exaggeration is 100% false.

Though it is possible to get muscle cramps while swimming, these are in no way life threatening. If a swimmer ever was to get a cramp, the best thing they could do is merely float and let the cramp run its course. Cramps while swimming are caused by working your muscles and have absolutely nothing to do with the length of time between swimming and eating. There has never been one drowning ever recorded that can be attributed to a cramp caused by the amount of time between eating and swimming. This old wives' tail can go down as yet another myth with absolutely no scientific backing.

"No Crunches, No Sweat, No Dice!"

As a nation of consumers we are always trying to find the new hit product, whether its weeding our gardens, cleaning our kitchens, or getting in shape there is a gadget for everything. Each year Americans spend billions of dollars on products sold on TV, a good portion of which are one type of fitness device or another. A major trend in this area over the last few years has been electronic ab belts or stimulators, I am sure we have all seen the commercials, I know I have. They all promise six packs or washboard abs! How do I get abs like that model? Just wear this belt around your waist for ten to thirty minutes a day and viola instant abs! Even better you can wear this belt whenever and wherever you want! It fits comfortably under any type of clothing so you can even where it to the office and get abs while you work! In fact many belt manufacturers even recommend wearing the belts around other muscle groups such as biceps and calves; this must be a miracle. Wouldn't we all like this to be true, it is no wonder why these products sell. If you could have those types of results by simply wearing a belt, wouldn't you at least give it a shot? I hope not.

Sadly enough as the motto goes no pain, no gain. As with many other products seen on TV the elaborate claims seem to fall flat on their face when put to the test. The University of Wisconsin tested one such belt for eight weeks, wearing the belt for forty five minutes, three times per week. What were the results? Absolutely no changes in either weight, body fat, or abdominal strength. So why would Americans spend 100 million dollars a year on gadgets like that? That's exactly why the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is now investigating these companies in a project called "Project Absurd". The claims made by the marketers are in fact so absurd that in fact the FTC has sued for "false and misleading claims". However in a much different setting these types of machines to have a purpose. EMS or electrical muscle stimulators are used by physical therapists to help stimulate muscles which are atrophied or at risk of being so. These however are much more powerful than any device sold over the TV and are usually quite painful to use. This is around the same amount of stimulation that would actually be necessary to create muscle but with the level of pain it inflicts it would not be plausible. So how can you get your washboard abs, its actually really simple. Eat healthy and monitor the amount of calories you take into your body. Hit the gym or bust out some ab exercises on your floor at home. Finally, do some cardio because no matter how big or powerful your abs are it won't do you much good if there still hidden by that spare tire of yours.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

You need to drink eight glasses of water a day to be healthy


Growing up I was always told that I needed to drink more water, the goal being eight glasses worth. When I was young soda and juice were my main sources of hydration because they obviously tasted much better than water. My mother still to this day claims that I need to drink eight glasses of water a day to maintain properly hydrated. It is a known fact that water is necessary for survival, but doesn't eight glasses worth everyday seem like a lot of water, and do we really need that much? Simply put the answer is no.
It is believed that the "eight glasses of water myth" may have actually originated from a government agency, who in 1945 claimed, "the human body needs around eight glasses of fluid a day, including the fluids from all the foods we eat and drink like coffee and tea." Over time people somehow replaced the word "fluid" with water, and a myth was born. The general answer to the how much water question is that we need enough water and fluids to support what we lose during the day through bodily functions and perspiration. Eight to ten glasses of water a day is a rule of thumb, it is not a minimum and our fluid intake does not need to come from just glasses of water.
Many medical professionals claim the best advice for the water rule is,"if you are thirsty drink, if you are not thirsty don't." http:///www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/04/02/eveningnews/main3991145.shtml?source=mostpop_storyDartmouth Medical School advocates only drinking water when you are thirsty because even modest amounts of increases in fluid intake can result in "water intoxication," which can lead to mental confusion and even death has occurred in some athletes. Also, once you become thirsty it is not too late, you are not already dehydrated. It is often stated that by the time people are thirsty, they are already dehydrated. "On the contrary, thirst begins when the concentration of blood (an accurate indicator of our state of hydration) has risen by less than two percent, whereas most experts would define dehydration as beginning when that concentration has risen by at least five percent."http:///dms.dartmouth.edu/news/2002_h2/08aug2002_water.shtml
The truth of the matter is eight glasses is just a magic number, and the amount of water to keep a person adequately hydrated varies from person to person.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Can we play God?


Are there really such things as paranormal experiences? What about God? Do these really exist or are they just an elaborate trick of the mind?


Dr. Michael Persinger has found through research that areas within the temporal lobes of our brain are responsible for these thoughts and feelings. Using the Persinger and Makarec’s Personal Philosophy Inventory, a persons temporal lobe sensitivity is measured. Responses to this inventory show the range goes from extremely sensitive, such as those suffering from temporal lobe epilepsy, to very low sensitivity. Persinger found that the more sensitive a person is, the more likely they are to report having had paranormal experiences. Not surprisingly, there is also a correlation between paranormal beliefs and paranormal experiences.


So how can Persinger make us feel this sensed presence?


Persinger uses a helmet, now dubbed the “God Helmet” that has electrical coils attached. During the experiments, Persinger will send magnetic fields through the coils to stimulate the right hemisphere of the brain. The belief behind stimulating the right hemisphere is that it is in direct contrast to what happens in the left hemisphere of our brains. When the temporal lobe is stimulated in the left hemisphere, it creates an even greater sense of self. By stimulating the right hemisphere, Persinger hopes to create a sense outside of the self. There have been many participants in Persinger's experiment over the years with 80% having reported a sensed presence, sometimes even referring to the presence as an experience with God.


The work of Michael Persinger shows that there could be direct explanations for paranormal experiences. Could this be the answer to all of our problems?


When someone says they saw a ghost at the foot of their bed when they woke up in the middle of the night, could it simply just be our brains tricking us? Further research in the field of neurotheology could prove to debunk all of the myths currently existing about ghosts, aliens, angels, and other unexplainable experiences.


The "God Helmet" in action...


For more information

Do mainstream American diets actually work?

While there is certainly no “one size fits all” approach to weight loss, the truth of the matter is that most diets designed for the average American flat out suck. These days, one of the most common approaches to losing fat consists of 1. limiting fat intake and 2. severely restricting calorie intake. In other words, it is typical for Americans to consume as low as 500-1000 calories per day on a diet. Most people are under the impression that less calories = faster weight loss since consuming excess calories achieves the opposite effect. Even the diets seen on television commercials aren’t much better in terms of their effectiveness. The following will outline a few reasons common methods of weight loss are extremely dangerous.

Weight often melts off quickly in the early stages of weight loss, however there are three major problems with this approach, the first one being that almost everyone cannot keep the weight off in the long term. Who wants to bet we will see Kirstie Alley on yet another Jenny Craig commercial in the near future? Can you recall how many times people you know have attempted to lose weight and either still look the same or look like they did before undergoing a diet? It is no wonder that obesity rates in America continue to climb. The second problem is that most of the weight one loses from this type of diet is not fat; it’s actually muscle. This is referred to as Gluconeogenesis, which essentially means the body will slowly feed off of skeletal muscle and organs for energy. Do the math and you will find that when this happens, one’s body fat percentage will actually be higher than it was initially due to all the lean mass lost. Even performing cardio can result in this muscle-burning effect. If you are considering doing cardio in conjunction with your diet, be very carful what type of cardio you choose. Distance running, for instance, is known to produce a stress hormone called cortisol in high quantities, which is catabolic and will burn muscle when levels are too high. Take a good look at most long distance runners and you will see what I am talking about. The third reason most diets fail is because they stop working early. When you restrict calories to a great degree like most people do, the body goes into starvation mode and after a short period of time weight loss stalls completely. The human body is smarter than you think; humans have evolved over time to handle long periods with little to no food and you would die quickly if your body lacked this response. Your metabolism slows down drastically and your thyroid goes to crap when you diet like most Americans and the damage to your metabolism often remains permanent.

In conclusion, be extremely wary and do plenty of research before going about dieting. Although there are more diets out and about than ever, obesity in the United States has risen from 12% in 1991 to 34% in 2008 according to the CDC and AMA and is still on the rise, which in itself speaks volumes about today’s dieting approaches. There are very safe and effective ways to go about losing weight such as timed-carb dieting, recomposition diets, and ketogenic diets. However, attempting what most Americans do will always lead to failure.

A Penny Dropped From the Empire State Building Will Kill a Pedestrian


Everybody has heard this myth before. If this myth was true, there would many more deaths in New York City. This myth applies to any tall structure in which you could drop a penny off. This myth is false for a few reasons. Mass does not effect the speed of an object in free fall, only gravity and air resistance. If two objects were dropped from an equal height, the force of gravity acting upon them would be the same. Air resistance is something will effect the speed of an object because of an object's shape. A penny for example, would flutter on it's way down from the Empire State Building, causing a large amount of resistance. Without air resistance, a penny in free fall will be traveling at 193.3 Mph. With air resistance, the penny would fall at 10.952 meters per second, which is 35.93 feet per second. This is a very slow speed. I would say that a person hit with this penny wouldn't even get a welt...

Sources:
http://planetphysics.org/encyclopedia/PennyFallingFromEmpireStateBuilding.html
http://www.csun.edu/scied/4-discrpeant-event/how_fast_do_things_fall/index.htm

Monday, February 15, 2010

Do Toads Give You Warts


Like others, as a kid I would always pick up and explore everything in my backyard. But the one thing I was always warned never to touch were toads. We can all remember back as kids when our mothers would warn us about toads and warts and how if we were to pick these little reptiles up we would get bumps all over our hands. Some of us probably even seen some friends with warts and asked the question if they played with toads, but do they truly cause warts?????

If not what could be the cause????

The true answer is they do not cause warts. Warts are caused through viruses which we can contracted through any surface on our skin. These viruses can cause an increase in blood vessels to accumulate and raise the infected area causing that puffiness which we call warts. You can get these infections anywhere but most common are public areas such as public waiting areas, locker-rooms, and rest rooms. Most kids can catch these viruses due to low and developing immune systems and since being a kid you do everything possible to get dirty it raises the risk of these infections.

So next time your around a toad and curious..... pick him up

Pseudoscience and Supplements


Over the last few years the F.D.A. has been increasingly cracking down on the supplement industry. Most people would assume that this is for "spiking" non-anabolic substances with steroids, pro-steroids or pro-hormones. Surprisingly, the supplement did not need to "spike" any of their products. They found loopholes in which active compounds were sold and labeled exactly what they were. Some of these compounds were more anabolic than prescription grade- controlled steroids.
Now, following a recent ban I find it quite humorous to see the names given to new products. These products have zero anabolic activity yet contain key words like "drol, test, diol, or tren." All being related to illegally obtained steroids or recently banned pro-steroids that actually yield anabolic activity. Why would the companies do this? Its simple- people assume if its name is similar to the real deal then it must contain something worth while. It is deception at its finest. Some companies go far enough to place their product in what looks like a pharmacy pill bottle.
Most of the substances that claim to have an "anabolic matrix" are simply tribulus. An herb that at most will minimally increase free levels of testosterone in older men. Will that pack on the 15 pounds of muscle they may claim? No chance.
In closing, the same can be said about the diet end of supplement companies. When something is actually based on science and it is taken away, pseudoscience steps in and profits off a few unlucky suckers.

Cell phones causing cancer!?

You might have heard that electronic devices cause cancer or other health effect, in particular a cell phone. I don't know about anyone else but I never really put too much thought into it and continued to use my cell phone. Well it turns out that THIS ISN'T TRUE. In fact the risk of getting in a car accident while talking on a cell phone is greater than getting cancer from talking on it. I believe that, have you seen some of the people driving these days.
The reason that we are not at risk from cell phone use is because the frequency is so low. Not only is cancer not related but neither are any other health problems. The FDA even has laws that limit the amount of radio frequency a cell phone can give off; maybe that's why you can't get service sometimes.
If you don't believe that it does no harm to use, it doesn't even do harm to lab animals. The use of cell phones is not recommended for children, HOWEVER, there is still now cancer or health problems that have ever been related. Now we can all rest assured that we can use our cell phones as much as we want without any health risks. Driving however, watch out!

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007151.htm

No, mom, you're wrong


Has your mom or dad ever warned you not to swallow gum? If so, they probably quoted the phrase, "It takes seven years to pass through your digestive system."
Well, like most of the things posted on this blog, your parents were wrong. While gum may be sticky outside of the body, once you swallow it, it is no different from any other food. The actual truth is that gum can resist being broken down by the body; however, that does not mean the gum cannot pass through your system. If gum did stay in your system, we would probably experience "death by gum" by numerous children, including myself, who once thought these yummy colored circles were meant to be eaten--they weren't. According to our friends at Snopes.com, gum is created with 15%-30% of gum base, which is indigestible. Upon hearing this word, is it clear as to how this myth became "truth", considering digestion is linked not to just the breaking down of food/food substances.
So if anyone tries to warn you about the "harm" of swallowing gum, enlighten them and put this myth to rest!

Thanksgiving Turkey As A Sleeping Pill

You sit down to the dinner table for your Thanksgiving feast. You have one round, two and three of the delicious offerings on the table. You are finally “stuffed” and relax while watching TV. You look around and everyone looks drowsy. Why is this you might ask? Everyone blames the poor turkey.
For many years this has been one of the topics while eating our Thanksgiving Feast. Is the turkey really to blame for the drowsiness after the festivities? From many of my family members, interesting reasons why have come out in conversation. Excitement of the day, stuffing your face as fast as you can, just sitting around and doing nothing, just to name a few, but one reason always comes up, the TURKEY.
As to research on this interesting topic, many have different opinions. Some blame the amino acids found in turkey. But to my surprise, the turkey acting as a sleeping pill is untrue. What many blame as the true reason why turkey makes you sleepy is the L-tryptophan. They say in the brain, L-tryptophan changes to serotonin which calms us down. The only way for L-tryptophan to make us sleepy is if consumed on an empty stomach and in high amounts. Yes, we may eat a lot of turkey on Thanksgiving, but there is not enough of L-tryptophan in a turkey to work as a sleeping pill. Not to mention, our stomachs are not empty.
Scientists have come up with many explanations as to why sleepiness is after these major meals. Some argue it is our blood flow. There is more blood flow to the stomach for digestion and less to the brain. But here are some tips the experts are recommending:
1. Eat smaller portions.
2. Take breaks while eating.
3. Eat healthier meals.
4. Stop when your full.
5. Go for a walk.
So I guess I am saying take or leave these tips and I hope they did not put you to sleep.

Sitting Too Close to the TV

Throughout my childhood my mother always told me that sitting too close to the television will rot my eyes out. I did believe this especially as I got older because it just seemed to me as a commonsense thing that everyone knows and agrees on. I believed this without any scientific evidence and just accepted it much like the cases that have been presented in the book and the class to us. I never felt the need to question it and felt that it was a fact that was just accepted and was just something that is. I didn't need the scientific evidence behind it to believe it because it was something I just accepted.
I have looked at some studies to see if my mom was right and if sitting too close to the television will in fact damage your eyes. Initially there is some truth behind this commonly believed myth. In the early development and production of televisions about 70 years ago, they emanated
a certain level of radiation that with repeated and extended exposure could heighten the risk of eye problems. So in the 1950s this myth was actually true and supported by relatively reliable medical evidence and tests. So it seems in the 1950s that my mother was right.
However since it is not 1950 anymore and televisions are made completely differently then they used to be this once fact now becomes myth. The way that televisions are produced today they are built with proper shielding and even though they do give off radiation you are completely protected from it. So this once fact now with time has become a myth. While sitting and staring at the television for hours on end and as close or far away as you want may not cause eye damage anymore it can result in eye strain or be an indicator of poor vision. Eye strain can easily be avoided by not staring at the television for hours on end and many parents should take notice of their child creeping closer to the television because its an indicator of bad vision. Overall sitting too close to the television will not damage your eyes so feel free to sit as close as you want.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/07/health/07really.html

"Put on a jacket, or you'll catch a cold!"

Growing up, I can remember trying to rush outside to the bus stop, only to hear my mom yelling at me to “put on a jacket before you catch a cold!” The worst was when you had a snow day from school and all’s you could think about was waking up and running outside to make a snowman, while the only think your mother had on her mind was taking ten minutes to bundle every inch of you up before you headed out.
After looking into it, I found that there was definitely a connection between cold weather and colds. This seemed pretty logical, considering that the older I got, the more I complained about being cold and the more I wanted to take the time to put on a coat before heading out of the house. I even began to take after my mother, telling my little brother, for instance, who likes to wear shorts and short-sleeved shirts on the coldest of days, to put on a jacket before going to a friend’s. The common cold, though, isn’t caused by the cold at all; rather, the rhinovirus is to blame. Since viruses aren’t alive, temperature has absolutely no effect on them.
So, what’s the connection? The answer may depend on who is asked, but a common explanation is that since cold weather usually keeps people in the warmth of their own homes, the increased contact between individuals could account for the spreading of the virus. It seems as though your mother should have forced you out into the cold if she didn’t want to risk catching a cold as well.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"Stop cracking your knuckles, or else you will get arthritis!"

has been a common phrase from parents trying to protect their children's hands. I was a victim of cracking my knuckles after I picked up the habit from my fellow classmates. My mother was very against me cracking my knuckles because she thought I would develop arthritis when I got older. I investigated into the popular myth and made some interesting discoveries. Just as we discussed in class, I believe the pressure placed on the knuckles when you crack them is similar to the weather and increased pain myth. Also, some disliked the popping sound from cracking knuckles, so somewhere arthritis may have been associated to discourage people from cracking their knuckles. Interestingly enough, I found out the working of a joint and what actually occurs when you crack your knuckles.
How does cracking your knuckles work? In the article, "Does cracking your knuckles cause arthritis?" Carol and Richard Eustice explain it well. Basically, a joint is where the ends of two bones meet, and at the ends of the two bones are covering of articular cartilage. The cartilage is surrounded by a joint capsule which is filled with synovial fluid. The synovial fluid contains dissolved gases, so when you crack your knuckles, the joint capsule expands, Thu, you get the cracking sound, which is gases rapidly being released fro the fluid. Since we now know what actually occurs when you crack your knuckles, let's see what studies have shown.
Studies on cracking your knuckles have shown no increased chance of arthritis of the hands. One study conducted found that knuckle cracking could cause hand swelling and lower grip strength, but no arthritis. Another study supports that cracking your knuckle was not linked to arthritis, but could cause damage to soft tissues. Even thought cracking your knuckles are not linked to arthritis, there are still undesirable effects.
Learn more about cracking knuckles from Dr. JaDean Anderson by watching this video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=bfVUUy1WUi8

"An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away"


"An apple a day keeps the doctor away" originated in Wales as a Pembrokeshire proverb, "Eat an apple on going to bed, and you'll keep the doctor from earning his bread." Even though apples have nutritional value, the Old English language used the word "apple" to describe any fruit that grew on a tree. As popular as the saying may be, there is supporting evidence both for and against the claim.
Junji Takano's article "Does an apple a day still keep the doctor away" states that apples are thought to be the most restorative fruit. Even though apples have less vitamin C than oranges, kiwis, and pears, a study showed that by eating two apples a day for ten days, the amount of vitamin C in the subject's blood increased by 35%. The subjects also reported feeling better all around. Apples contain pectin, part of the dietary fiber, and when expanding, absorbs moisture and excites the intestine. In doing so, the intestine's overall condition becomes better and can more easily absorb the vitamin C.
On the flip side, Diane Kohnle's article "True or False: Does an apple a day keep the doctor away", explains why the saying does not hold true. Many fruits such as cranberries, strawberries, bananas, and grapes have the same, if not more, antioxidants than apples. Most of the apple's nutritional value is found in the skin, therefore, apple juice, apple sauce, and peeled apples lack the nutrients found in a whole apple. Apples alone cannot form a healthy diet. The only way the doctor can be kept away is by incorporating a healthy diet and exercise with the consumption of apples. Apples are a good choice for a snack, but even the healthiest of eaters can suffer from other health concerns and should visit a doctor regularly.
An apple a day does not always keep the doctor away, but it is a good snack with a high source of fiber and antioxidants. Realistically, there is no definite way to keep a doctor away and by visiting a doctor, precautionary treatments can be used to prevent the risk of diseases.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Find a Penny, Pick It Up...


I have always remembered the first time I heard the saying "find a penny, pick it up, all day long you'll have good luck!" It was when I was much younger, and my mother was the one who relayed the superstition to me. Ever since then, every time I find a penny heads up, I repeat the saying and carry the penny with me. If I see a penny face down, I do not even bother with it. The penny superstition has such a grip on me that I now associate the fights and/or good times I share with my boyfriend to whether I had seen a penny heads up or down recently. Thinking rationally, I really do not believe that one copper coin can have so much power as to determine whether my day will be good or bad, but my question is: where did this silly phrase come from? And why is it so compelling to believe?
I researched on a couple of websites and found some logical explanations for the "find a penny..." saying, along with some outrageous claims. The first website I discovered described the penny phenomenon as coming from an old religious belief that metal is a gift from God. Thus, finding a penny brings good fortune and protection against evil. The website also said, which is new to me, that if you give the penny to a friend, you are passing on the good luck to that person.
An article I found on Everything.com had two possible explanations for the saying. Apparently, old Wiccan tradition was to use a pin in good luck spells. If a pin was found on the ground people thought, or maybe hoped, that it was from a spell and would bring the finder good luck. The saying was "see a pin and pick it up..." The resolution is that through the years the saying was misunderstood as "see a penny..." instead of "see a pin and..." The second illustration is another religious one. Since the penny has "In God We Trust" printed on it, believers think that finding a penny is God's message of saying the He is here, and in control, and not to worry, but to trust Him.
So far, we have seen pretty reasonable justifications, but I found one website that was completely ludicrous. The website is for asking the Penny Priestess questions about pennies. The "Penny Priestess" is a firm believer in the "Penny God," and according to her, all pennies found, whether they lie on heads or tails, is good luck. There are also claims made on this website that placing pennies around the corners of a room, or on top of a doorway, brings good fortune to the room or house.
I believe that the popularity of this superstition, as well as with others, comes from a person's desire to avoid what could possibly bring bad luck. Picking a penny up off of the ground does no harm, and if it could bring some good luck with it, why not? Besides, if you do something to possibly cause misfortune, every time some misfortune comes your way, it is easy to blame it on the tangible action instead of just the fact that good and bad things happen in life, no matter how many pennies you find, or how many cracks you avoid in the sidewalk, and so on.

Ghost Hunters - Ridiculousness at its Finest


So i am sure you've all seen an episode or at least a commercial for the Sci-fi channels original series Ghost Hunters, you know the one that seems like its filmed entirely in night vision. Well if you ever had the blessing of watching this show you might be more than surprised at how amusing it is, well at least to someone like my self who enjoys watching grown men make fools of themselves on national TV.
The show in a nutshell, for those of you who haven't seen it, is about a group of "Paranormal Investigators" how travel to notoriously "haunted" spots around the world try to capture images or otherwise prove the existence of "ghosts". This in turn sounds genuine enough, but once you see there methods it becomes quite clear why i chose this as a posting.
From the episodes ive seen, the show quickly becomes entertaining after they reach there destinations. As expected they wait for nightfall to start using the plethora of paranormal detection devices and recording equipment, but that's the boring part, the fun stuff is when the lead investigators try to taunt the ghost into showing itself, and then by some miracle one of them will start feeling cold, or perhaps feel something brush by them.
As expected at the end of each show, nothing is resolved. Any blip on a photo is "suggested" to be of paranormal origin but never proven. Any strange sounds recorded are automatically assumed to be the voices of the dead, but not a shred of actual science is ever used to back this show up. Im guessing that they believe that infrared cameras are all the proof they need, which i guess is true judging by there fan base.
My point to this is that it seems no-one cares whether or not things are real, or work, or exist as long as they can stimulate the imagination. It just bothers me that these guys are making enormous amounts of money screaming in the dark and peddling none sense, and im going to be struggling in the real market trying to make ends meet. This guy wrote a great article about the show Brian Ettkin. It really goes to show how little talent is needed to make it big in this country.

The Bermuda Triangle


For as long as I can remember, I've heard about the Bermuda Triangle. If anyone dared enter this place, they'd disappear and would never be found. How can we find out if it's real if anyone who goes there is gone forever? When documented, some explanations are very far fetched and they don't take into account any other factors which can prove the theory wrong.

Supposedly, all the triangle talk started with some magazine articles and books. When everyone reads things like this, no one questions it and people just believe it. When this happens, often times many theories and justifications flourish. Some include the lost city of Atlantis and UFO's. Stories about disappearances started to come out of the woodwork, ensuring this Bermuda Triangle [possible] myth wouldn't die. There are a bunch, so here's a link.

Are there any actual explanations to prove that the Bermuda Triangle doesn't exist? According to the HowStuffWorks website, often abnormalities are due to "human and environmental error". These include:
  1. Water weather. Apparently this area is prone to quick passing storms which can be treacherous for people passing by and never show up on a scanner.
  2. Scientists have seen that the sea floor around this area is also very inconsistent and deep. It's likely these missing vessels sunk so low that no one could possibly know if they were even down there.
  3. Methane gas. This gas can get trapped underwater and on the sea floor. If the gas were to escape, it can sink a ship and cover it up with sand as well, as if it were never there.
  4. As silly as this one sounds, pirates may also be at fault for hijacking travelers.
It seems there are scientists and researchers trying to disprove this old story of the Bermuda Triangle. As our technology advances, it's very possible we will find out that there is nothing to be afraid of when traveling near the Bahamas. I think many people like to encourage rumors instead of trying to prove them false, so at any hint of justification, they'll latch on. Is the Bermuda Triangle real? I'm going to say it's more for entertainment. If you're interested, here is a video.


Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bermuda_Triangle.png

Videogames and My Eyes

My Mom always said to me that watching too much TV and playing too many video games will hurt my eyes. So she would always limit my time with both. As I got older I continued to follow her advice because I never had any problems with my eyes and I continued to have 20/20 eyesight. But I also started to noticed as I got older that my friends moms never told them to only play their video games for a little while or else their eyes would start to hurt. That was when I began to question what my mom always told me, because none of my friends had any eye problems.
You always see different articles in the news about how staring too long at the TV was bad for your eyes. So you always make sure that you don't sit too close to the TV or play your video games four hours and hours on end. But finally there are studies that show playing your video games can actually help out your eyes (Web MD). According to the articles I read recent studies show that when children play video games for extended periods of time it can actually help their hand eye coordination and improve their eyesight. This increase in eyesight helps the most with children and when their eyesight is not 20/20.
Finally a study that answers my life long question and proves that what my mother always told me is not true! Now that I am older and am on my own I can play my games as much as I want and I can tell anyone who says anything about it that I am improving my eyesight. And when I have children I`ll make sure that I let them play as much as they want to!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reading in the Dark

When I was younger, I was an avid reader. Every time my mother looked at me, I had another book in my hand. Even though she liked that I was reading so much, she always worried that reading would damage my eyes, especially since I enjoyed reading in the dark so often. So every time she caught me reading with a flashlight after bedtime, she would yell at me to turn it off, lest I destroy my eyesight.
I believed her for the longest time. It made sense to me that the eyestrain would cause my eyesight to deteriorate with time, so even though I liked reading in the dark, I would do it less and less, heeding my mother's warnings. I already had to wear strong prescription lenses, and I didn't want to worsen my condition.
Although reading in the dark does strain the eyes, research has shown that it doesn't cause permanent damage to the eyes. The lighting only makes it harder to focus, making it uncomfortalbe, but it doesn't actually do harm to the eyes. In dim lighting, the words on the page may not be as clear, forcing you to pull the book closer to your face. The eyes have to adjust as a result. People report having headaches and nausea after reading in the dark, although it is caused more by staring at something too closely rather than the lighting itself. Our eyes change shape and adjust so that the change in lighting doesn't harm our resilient eyes. My mom still insists that reading in the dark is ruining my eyes, but I just let her believe what she wants. I am still careful about straining my eyes, but I still enjoy reading in the dark sometimes.

Eating Late At Night Makes You Fat

It has been commonly assumed that night is the worst time to eat. The logic being night is when the body typically slows down and therefore is more prone to gain fat. Makes sense, but is it true?

Scientists at the Oregon National Primate Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University believe they have helped dispel the myth that late-night eating causes weight gain. The research is published in the current edition of the journal Obesity Research.

"We've all been told at one point in our lives that we should avoid late-night snacks as they will lead to weight gain. In reality, however, this belief is not based in fact. We conducted a review of previous data on the topic and found no real evidence that this was true. In addition, our research in rhesus monkeys, which are considered an excellent model for studying primate (man and monkey) obesity issues, showed that eating at night is no more likely to promote weight gain than eating during the day," said Judy Cameron, Ph.D., a senior scientist in the Divisions of Reproductive Sciences and Neuroscience at the OHSU Oregon National Primate Research Center. Cameron also is a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh.

To conduct this research, scientists studied 16 female rhesus monkeys that were placed on a high-fat diet similar in composition to the diet normally consumed by humans in the United States and other Western countries. During the study, all of the monkeys had their ovaries removed -- this simulates a menopause-like state in female monkeys similar to human female menopause. In lower animals both high fat diet and decreased ovarian function lead to weight gain.

The researchers then observed the monkeys for one year. In addition to studying their weight gain, researchers noted how much and when the animals ate, which varied dramatically among the animals observed. Specifically, the researchers found that the monkeys ate between 6 percent and 64 percent of their total calories at night. This is comparable to reports in humans who take in approximately 24 percent to 65 percent of total calories at night.

"We were not surprised to find that as a group, the monkeys in this study gained weight when they were placed on this very palatable diet," said Elinor Sullivan, an OHSU graduate student conducting research along with Cameron at the Oregon National Primate Research Center. "However, what did surprise us initially was the fact that there was no clear correlation between caloric intake and weight gain. In other words, the monkeys that ate more didn't necessarily gain more weight. In addition, while some monkeys preferred to eat during the day and others ate most of their calories at night, neither of these groups gained more weight than the other."

Initially, the research project was conducted to gather data about the role of menopause in weight gain. These results were presented at the 2003 Society for Neuroscience Meeting. The data in regard to weight gain and night eating were secondary, unexpected discoveries that occurred in the midst of gathering this information.

"Overall, this research shows that caloric intake does not specifically correlate to weight gain," added Cameron. "We're now trying to determine what the cause of weight gain is. Some of our preliminary data presented at the 2005 Society for Neuroscience Meeting shows that a person's activity level is a better predictor of weight gain and loss. In other words, for those wishing to lose weight, simply changing your diet may not be enough."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Truth about Ouija Boards




For years, Oujia boards have been popular especially among children and young adults. Their main purpose is for connecting and communicating with "spirits" or "ghosts". Many people, including myself, have experimented with these boards at parties or on late nights spending time with friends. The participants or players place their fingers on a pointer or "planchette" and verbally ask questions out loud which are supposedly intended for a spirit. The spirit is supposed to answer by moving the planchette on the board to the given letters or "yes" or "no" responses.

Prototypes of Oujia boards have existed for a great number of years with roots in Greece from 540 B.C. and China from around 1100 B.C.. During the 1800s, businessmen Elijah Bond and Charles Kennard began selling planchettes (pointers) and boards on which the alphabet was printed. A man named William Fuld started producing these boards in 1901and marketed them under the name "Ouija". In 1966, Fuld's business was sold to Parker Brothers a.k.a Hasbro Games who currently still produces the infamous Ouija boards today.

Parker Brothers/Habsro Games makes no mystical claims directly on their Ouija product, and describes the board in the following manner on their website: “Turn out the lights...now the board and message indicator glow in the dark! How it works has been a mystery for over 30 years!” Spiritualists and occult followers claim that the board enables the user(s) to “channel” a spirit’s energy through themselves therefore enabling the planchette to move and spell out responses. According to one site, museumoftalkingboards.com, dedicated to information and sales of these boards “Ouija messages obviously come from forces beyond our control. You contact or "channel" these entities through the board. They are discarnate spirits, ghosts, or other ethereal beings who have a purpose for contacting the living”.

Critics explain the Ouija phenomenon as stemming from ideomotor action also known as automatism. This means that users subconsciously direct the path of the planchette to produce a desired word or response that is their subconscious thoughts. The Penn&Teller: Bullshit! show attempted to clear up the mysticism surrounding Ouija boards. They ran an experiment using unbiased participants and directed them to ask “yes or no” questions. The participants were then blindfolded and the board was turned 180 degrees without their knowledge. The participants asked their questions, and the planchette pointed to bare areas of the board where the participants believed the "Yes" and "No" responses were located, although they were not.



So, do you believe in the power of the Ouija board?If you’re still not sure…why not go and ask it?