So You Want to be a Scientist

Author: Kristina Lenn

Editors: Alex Taylor, Zena Lapp, and Scott Barolo

People say that “love” is probably the most abused word in the English language. I disagree. I think the word that is most misused is “genius.”

I taught engineering at Wayne State University for three years, and the class I taught that was most frustrating for the students was programming. Many of my students would come to me and say how discouraged they were; how they seemed to be behind everyone else; and how they thought they should already know how to do everything. My response was, “If you already knew how to do it, why would you need the class? It’s required for a reason.” In fact, many of them would look at me and say, “You hardly even think about the answer. You just start typing the code and it magically works.” I had to remind them that I’d been teaching for years and programming for almost a decade.

Continue reading “So You Want to be a Scientist”

Health Benefits of High-intensity Interval Training: Helping you HIIT the Gym

Author: Alison Ludzki

Editors: Zena Lapp, Alex Taylor, and Sarah Kearns

Gyms are riding out their busiest season, as patrons hang on to their New Year’s resolution exercise programs. But will it last? It seems inevitable that exercise participation wanes from January through December, except for maybe a blip prior to “beach body” season.  High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one newer exercise option that could help your resolution stick.

Continue reading “Health Benefits of High-intensity Interval Training: Helping you HIIT the Gym”

Are Omega-3 fatty acids healthy?

Author: Attabey Rodríguez-Benítez

Editors: Jimmy Brancho, Andrew McAllister, and Noah Steinfeld

When I got sick as a child, my great-grandmother used to treat me with unpleasant fish oil. She would say, “bébete esto para que te pongas mejor y tengas un corazón fuerte” (“drink this so you can get better and have a strong heart”). Both of my parents also swore by fish oil, taking these enormous yellow pills, which I did not take myself because I was afraid to choke on them. These large fish oil pills were full of omega-3 fatty acids. My family explained that the supplements helped with high blood pressure, but never explained why they worked. As it turns out, there is still quite a lot of debate in the scientific community as to how omega-3s impact human health.

Continue reading “Are Omega-3 fatty acids healthy?”

Microscopic Diversity: How and Why One Gene Creates Many Unique Proteins

Author: Jessica Cote

Editors: Zena Lapp, Christina Vallianatos, and Whit Froehlich

The Human Genome Project is one of the greatest scientific accomplishments in recent history— this international collaboration identified almost all of the ~20,500 genes in the human body, known collectively as the genome. Now that scientists know the details of these genes, they are better able to understand and treat human diseases associated with genetic factors. However, despite the immense effort put forth by over 30 research labs for 13 years (1990-2003), the information we gained from this project is limited. Genes serve as guidebooks for cells in the body to build proteins; genes themselves don’t perform the necessary cellular functions—proteins do. So, while scientists have now known the nitty-gritty of thousands of human genes for a while, the details of their protein products, known collectively as the proteome, are still quite puzzling.

Continue reading “Microscopic Diversity: How and Why One Gene Creates Many Unique Proteins”

La ciencia tras bastidores: Correlación y causalidad

Escrito en inglés por Brian Moyers, traducida al español por Thibaut R. Pardo-García y editado por Attabey Rodríguez-Benítez.

Cuando hablamos sobre problemas científicos, la frase “correlación no implica causalidad” a veces es utilizada. Pero, ¿Qué significa esta frase? La ciencia hace declaraciones sobre causa y efecto. Por ejemplo, el fumar causa cáncer de pulmón, las emisiones de carbón causan cambios climáticos y altas temperaturas causan un aumento en violencia. Claramente, los científicos tienen alguna manera de inferir relaciones causales. Pero, ¿Cómo es que ellos luchan con la idea de que “Correlación no implica causalidad”? Si no utilizan correlación, ¿Qué herramientas utilizan para inferir causalidad?

Continue reading “La ciencia tras bastidores: Correlación y causalidad”

The Amazing Space Odyssey of a Hydrogen Atom

Author: Ryan Farber

Editors: Alex Taylor, Jessica Cote, and Sarah Kearns

Where do you come from? Somewhere on Earth, you say. But how did life begin? How did the Earth begin? How did the Sun begin? … How did the universe begin? These questions of origins have fascinated humanity for millennia. And though we can answer neither the first question nor the last, nor many in between, modern astronomical theory places a handle on the origins of one structure of particular importance for our existence: the Sun.

Continue reading “The Amazing Space Odyssey of a Hydrogen Atom”

Methylated Memory

Author: Sarah Kearns

Editors: Naiyiri Kaissarian, Patricia Garay, and Shweta Ramdas

If you saw a hippo on campus, you would remember it. But, would you expect that seeing such a pachyderm roaming on a university would alter the expression of your DNA? A recent study found that rats placed in an environment that tested their memory had alterations to their DNA, or epigenetic changes.

For a long while, we have generally known that neurons within the hippocampus of our brains are responsible for memory. The current model for memory storage is due to the plasticity of neuronal connections, but researchers have recently found that it also involves active changes at the genetic level. These changes come from external factors and are linked to retaining long-term memories, which has implications in stress-related learning and memory disorders.

Continue reading “Methylated Memory”