Sunday, December 20, 2009

Stem Cells

When Douglas Melton found his son turning gray and projectile vomiting when he was 6 months old he thought it was just a cold. He and his wife took him to the emergency room and they ran test after test on him only to find out that he had type 1 diabetes. After that day their whole lives were dedicating to making sure that Sam’s blood sugar was right. This was before they had a lot of technology about diabetes so they had to wake a couple times during the night to make sure his blood sugar wasn’t too high or too low. Melton thought that this was no way to live life and this is what inspired him to study the possibilities of stem cells. He now tries to make insulin producing cells using stem cells. The study of stem cells shows promise to the helping or even curing of diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and even heart disease. There are two types of cells, embryonic cells and cells taken from tissues from the body or that is what was believed until Melton started work on a new stem cell which generate new populations of cells by reprogramming one type of fully mature cell so it became another. President Bush passes laws saying Scientists could not use government funding to grow or even look at embryonic stem cells. This may change now that Barack Obama took office though and many scientists are hopeful.
This does affect society and it does affect the world. Although it may not be directly you, someone you know, or someone who knows someone you know may have one of these diseases that this type of research could save their life. This is good news or bad news depending on your opinion of it. If you are against stem cell research than this is bad news because it is pretty much saying that stem cell research is going big and now with the possible funding scientists may be getting from Barack Obama it may get even bigger. The possibilities are growing and the diseases may be getting cured. This is good news because they may be on the verge of a break through for curing diseases which have been incurable in the past. I think everyone should care because this could be a really goo dthing. And it does affect you in some way or another. There are many more questions from scientists and people about where this type of research will go but that is why scientist continue to study stem cells.

Dangers of Ocean Acidification

The Industrial Revolution brought about cars, factories, machines etc. but most importantly it also brought about air pollution. More specifically Carbon Dioxide pollution in the air. The problem is this pollution just doesn’t end up in the air. A lot of this Carbon being emitted in the air is being absorbed in our oceans. This causes a lot of problems for our ecosystem. The JGOFS (Joint Global Ocean Flux Study) and the WOCE (World Ocean Circulation Experiment) completed an exercise in 2004 and concluded that the ocean has absorbed fully half of all the fossil carbon released to the atmosphere since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. What this does is make the oceans pH fluctuate. The current absorption of Carbon Dioxide has caused the pH of modern surface waters to be about .1 lower than it was in preindustrial times. This seems like a small change but if this continues oceanographers suggest the pH of the ocean several centuries from now will be lower than at any time in the pas 300 million years. The lower pH may harm the ability of certain organisms to make calcium carbonate so much that these organisms will have a difficult time growing. Including Coccolithophorids which are plankton covered with small plates of calcium carbonate and are essential to the diet of many marine fish. Also many corals whose shells are made of calcium will start disintegrating along with a string of other problems.
This affects society because it is our ecosystem that is being harmed and it is our fault. We are the ones that brought cars and factories to the world so it should be our job to make sure that we keep our planet healthy from things that we brought into it. It is important because marine life although small and seemingly non important are actually very important to our ecosystem and people’s lives. This is bad news that our oceans are changing because it seems like a small change now but if this pattern continues it will get worse and worse until the effects are irreversible. We are causing lifetime damage to our oceans and causing harm to many marine organisms. We should definitely care because this is our world, our environment, our life and it is our job to keep our earth clean and properly functioning. There are still many questions posed on how we can stop this or if there are any positive effects to the increase in Carbon in the water. With the help of interested people and scientist soon we will know more about this problem and will hopefully be able to do something about it.
I would recommend this article to anyone interested in Marine Biology as a career possibly in the future or any sort of science related or environment related career. It is important information for anyone to know. Although it seems like it doesn’t apply to you because it is talking about a bunch of scientific terms and it’s a lot of information but it really does affect us all. If it doesn’t know it will in the future and it is now that we can stop what is happening.

Transfiguration Carissa Style

So today I was taking a shower and I looked up in the corner to see a little spider dangling from the corner. Right when I was about to scream and kill it I stopped. I wondered how long it had been there. I hadnt noticed it before but with the business of the Christmas season who knows how long it had been there! It could have been there for weeks for all I knew. Then I got to looking at it lazily wasting away in its web and I envied it. It didnt have any last minute Christmas shopping to do or baking or decorating etc. Then I got to thinking I didnt have to do any of that either. The reason we do all of that is for the enjoyment of the season :D So why does everyone make it such a stressful time? The Holidays are supposed to be abot being happy and spending time with your loved ones not about stress and scrambling. So my advice is do things out of love and wanting to not because you feel you have to this holiday season. Make the holidays happy not stressful because only you can do it :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone. Now some people might try to convince you that the opening to this blog is not politically correct. Well you know what? I dont care! We have the right to free speech in this country and that is why I love being an American. With the coming of the winter holidays there is always a lot of controversy about religion versus state. Employees arent allowed to say Merry Christmas teachers arent aloud to have Christmas parties. While I agree with some of this I had to ask myself. Would I get offended if somebody came up to me and said Happy Hannukah? Happy Ede? Happy Kwanza? The answer is no I wouldnt. I would actually be ecstatic to listen to all the cool things of different religions and cultures and how other people celebrate. On the other hand I would see how it is annoying listening to other people always talk about christmas time and make all the christmas references when you dont understand it. So I think it is good to keep a balance of both this season.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Incredible Case of Phineas Gage!

Phineas Gage born in 1823 was a regular man who was a foreman on a crew of railroad construction workers who were working on the Berlington Railroad. What they would do on the railroad is insert dynamite into holes in the ground then plug up those holes with sand and light a fuse so the force of the dynamite would go into the boulder and not to the outside. They would do this with a tamping iron which is a long iron rod about three feet in length. One day on September 13th 1848 when Gage was 25 he was working on the Berlington Railroad in Vermont when a spark ignited the gun powder and sent a tamping iron straight through his left cheek bone up through his skull. Surprisingly Gage was able to stand up, walk, and even talk just minutes after the horrific accident. Gage was rushed to the doctor where Dr. John Martin Harlow examined him. Dr. Harlow confirmed that the rod that entered his skull was 3 feet 8 inches in length and 1.25 inches in diameter and it weighed 6 kg. Dr. Harlow did not treat Gage surgically but replaced the parts of his skull that he could with adhesive wrap and put a wet compress on the open part of Gage’s skull. Within a few days of the accident Gage’s brain became infected with a fungus and he went into a semi-comatose state. Gage’s family planned for his death but surprisingly enough Gage came out of his coma and by January 1st 1849 Gage was seemingly as normal as ever. His colleagues and family members soon noticed a difference in Gage’s personality though. His work wouldn’t even let him back on the job. They said he was defiant, disrespectful, and impatient when something conflicted with what he wanted, rude, indecisive etc. He was to his friends “no longer Gage.” Doctors soon found out that the damage done to Gage’s frontal cortex led to social inhibitions which usually led to inappropriate behavior. It’s not certain what Gage did after his accident but eventually in 1859 with his health declining, he went to live with his mother. He died on May 20th 1860 13 years after his accident.

This accident of Phineas Gage was extremely important in the advancement of neurology and also the study of the brain. David Ferrier carried out a physiological study about localization of cerebral functions. Ferrier used Gage’s story as a highlight in his Goulstonian lecture in 1878 and ultimately Gage’s story helped prove Ferriers hypothesis that damage to the prefrontal cortex could result in personality changes. So this story does in fact affect society because it helps us better understand the brain and the functions of the brain. This is good news to us so we can better understand the brain and how it works and what it can really do. We should care so we know what to do the next time something like this happens. We should also care because now we have some insight on how to treat brain injuries such as Gages. Of course this study of science is fairly new and there are still so many questions to be answered. Like how exactly and what exactly does the prefrontal cortex do. Is this the only part of the brain that controls the personality? What else can be changed by altering the brain in ways? At least these are some of my questions. Now that we have better technology and equipment we can discover the answers to some of these questions and some of the questions that arose in the eighteen hundreds when Gage had his accident.


A Year Without a Santa Claus

WARNING! If you are under the age of ten years old DO NOT READ THIS BLOG. I don't want to crush your hopes and dreams like mine were.

For me as a young girl Christmas was about magic and miracles and happiness. It was undoubtedly one of my most favorite times of the year. I loved going sledding out in the snow, making snowmen with my dad and sister, and of course I loved coming down on Christmas morning to a tree filled with presents from Santa Claus. I was a firm believer in Santa Claus. Sure there were those nay sayers, who would try to prove me wrong but my philosophy was seeing isn't believing, believing is seeing. Santa was more than a jolly old man who gave me presents each year he was a symbol of the magic of Christmas. I loved the Santa Claus movies with Tim Allen. If you haven't seen them I recommend you do! But to see how happy him and the elves were up in the North Pole just made me feel nice and warm inside. My parents were very good with keeping the charade up about Santa Claus. One year my sister and I awoke to find that on our fireplace, (we have these glass doors that close) was a little piece of red fabric. Santa had ripped his pants going up our chimney!!!! It was magical! It made him so real to think that I was actually holding a piece of Santa's clothing! I wanted to keep them forever! But my mom made me and my sister send them back to Mrs. Claus so she could patch his pants up for him. Each year we would leave him cookies and carrots for the reindeer, each year the cookies would be gone and the carrots would be nibbled. So I had no reason to prove them wrong. As I started getting older my doubts slowly started creeping into the back of my mind. But I didn't dare think about them. Then one day in fifth grade my good friend Haley jumped into a lively debate with me about Santa Claus. "Santa isn't real I know so!" "How do you know?" I asked sarcastically. "Because my parents told me they do it!!!" I think that moment was one of the worst feelings I have ever had in the pit of my stomach. My heart sank and it was all I could do to stop from crying right there on the spot. "Well I don't believe you." I said shyly. I wanted to drop the subject completely but she went on to say how her dad would tell her brother there was such a thing as a jolly fat man who put presents under the tree and she would smile and say yes there is! haha I remember this conversation like it was yesterday. That feeling of dread. I couldn't get my mind off it the rest of the day. "Because my parents told me they do it!!!" Kept playing over and over again in my head like a bad record. I went home that night and confronted my mom about it. Actually I tried to get answers. "Maybe Santa doesn't come to Haley's house because she doesn't believe and he knows that!" My mom was on the computer and I could tell she was trying to ignore me. As I kept asking more and more questions she slowly sighed and turned to me. "Alright sweety come here..." She said. She set me on her lap and prepared me for the blow. Those words that came out of her mouth were ones I never wanted to hear. I cried harder than I ever had before. My mom thought I was so upset because I they had been lying to me the whole time but I was most upset because my childhood friend, companion, someone I had turned to when I was upset was gone. Just like that. In an instant. Everything I had believed in everything I wanted to be true was no more. To this day thinking about that sad day after school still chokes me up. It took me about two years to get over that. That year during Christmas I pretended as if my Mom had never said it. I tried to repress it in the back of my mind just to get the joy of Christmas back. Year after year I would convince myself it was all a lie, they must be mistaken. Because you see to me it was more than a holiday figure, santa was the heart of the magic of Christmas. He made me feel as if anything was possible. I guess I'm glad that I believed in him for so long. If you think about fifth grade is kind of pushing it. I've heard of people who stopped believing when they were two. I had a good run with St. Nick. But I got to thinking. Do I want my kids to go through the same thing that I did? Do I want them to feel the same heart break that I did? Maybe I shouldn't even start the fantasy and come clean with them right away. But I know if I did that I would be denying them the happiness that I felt for so long too...I guess I still have some time to think about it. Now I have found other ways to find that joy in Christmas. I have learned that it isn't all about Santa Claus. I remember the true reason for Christmas. To celebrate Christ's birth and have fun times with your friends and family :) So I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!!


Friday, December 11, 2009

Playtime Poppy

The sun is out, the sky is clear, birds came back spring must be here so let's begin another year, a year with Frog and Toad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh yes another successful Playtime Poppy show has come to a close. This year as you know the show was a Year with Frog and Toad. There really was no plot line it was pretty much just two friends, Frog and Toad going and doing things throughout the year, they went sledding, baked cookies, celebrated Christmas, went swimming and even grew a garden. This show had a lot of special effects and props for instance there was a big ramp that was made to look like a sledding hill and when in the winter the moles were singing snow came down from the ceiling. The snow was made up of little pieces of plastic bags. The costumes were great too they were all recycled from previous years and they were made by Mr. A the man who usually does them. Overall the show went really well and people enjoyed it. :)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Speech Season

Before Thanksgiving Break we auditioned for Speech Team. Speech Team is a competitive acting group where we go and compete in different categories like group mime, improv, one act, musical theatre, ensemble acting etc. It is really fun and a great way to meet people! This year I am in individual storytelling and group mime. I'm really excited because I really enjoy acting. Here is a video of what group mime is like.

Here is an example of Musical Theatre


Playtime Poppy

Wednesday-Show at one
Thursday-Show at 4:30 and 7
Friday-Show at 4:30 and 7
Saturday-Show at 2 and 4

This was what my week consisted of. Rehearsing and shows. Playtime Poppy is a childrens theatre that puts on shows every year for children. This year was A Year with Frog and Toad. It was based off of the childrens book A Year with Frog and Toad. It was a really fun play to do. The characters consisted of Frog of course and Toad. Also some other characters were the moles, lizard, turtles, birds, and the mice. I was the lizard. Childrens theatre is really fun because usually its not just one person has the lead and is the main character. The spotlight is shared throughout the whole play. I like doing childrens theatre shows because you really get to interact with the children and have audience participation which is really fun. Also at the end of every show the characters run out to the cafeteria to sign autographs on the childrens programs. The costumes are really amazing too. I think it is great because the costumes arent new they are reused from year to year and recycled. Which is good because we conserve money that way. Now that it is over its really sad because that has been our life for the past couple of weeks. I really enjoyed this cast too because I felt like we all got along really well and sincerely enjoyed working with each other. Im really excited to try out for next years show too!!! So goodbye to another year of playtime poppy now on to speech season :D


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cops~Carissa Style

"It is the spirit and not the form of law that keeps justice alive. ~Earl Warren"

Two Thursdays before Thanksgiving break I got the opportunity of a lifetime. You remember that leadership program I wrote a post about earlier? Well as a perk to this program all the students get the chance to go on a police ride for six hours. I chose that Thursday night because we didnt have school the next day so I didnt have to worry about homework or anything. When I got there my police officer ; Officer Doyle gave me a tour of the police station and control room and stuff like that. While he was talking to his co-workers he told him about one of his more interesting experiences on the job. He said him and his partner stopped a van and the guy in the van threw a sock filled with Meth and Marijuana at them. When he went in to arrest this man he found that he was paraplegic which means that he is paralyzed from his waist down. My cop had to pick him up and carry him into the jail. What a story! With a story like this I was really excited to start working with my police officer that night. I'm not going to lie when we first started out it was a bit of a let down. All we did was sit on the bridge and watch for speeders. Then we got a call of a guy that got his truck stolen so we had to go file that claim. I walked with him and listened when he talked to the guy. It was anything less than exciting. He just got a bunch of information fromt he guy and we went about our business. Then the night really started to pick up. We got a call about a hit and run so we went to see what that was all about. Turns out it was just a bitter feud between neighbors. We went up to knock on the door of the woman that was accused of hitting the mans car but she wouldnt answer. The police officer told the guy to report any other abuse from this woman but that there was nothing he could do. Then we went driving around and he made a quick U turn and pulled over a car without its license plates. He came back into the police car and said
"It smells like dope in there."
Okay Im not going to lie I was so excited! I could potentially get to see a drug bust up close and personal! So he called for some back up and they went in searched the guy and asked to search his car. He denied.
"That means that he is hiding something from us." Said Officer Doyle. Then I saw one of the other cops that he called for back up take the girl to his car and put her in the back seat. He then came and showed my cop a bag of none other than MARIJUANA! I have never smelled marijuana before but it stunk! Really bad! And it didnt just smell it made the whole car smell. The officer let me look at it and touch it. He said it was fresh because it was still on the vine and it was really compacted. We found out that she was carrying 8 ounzes of it. We took the woman into jail and I got to see the whole process of how they process people. I got to see a jail cell too and everything. Then we left to help out some other police officers with yet another drug bust!!! This time they found about 15 ounzes of meth. They showed me how they test it for meth they put a little bit of it in a bag and break these tubes and if it changes a certain color then it is meth. It did so they took her into the jail too. Our last stop of the night was from a guy that wasnt being let into his house. We talked to him and evidentally he had a surgery the next day at Saint Lukes. His wife/girlfriend/friend/I dont really know what she was was walking towards the house so we went to go talk to her. I could tell she had attitude right away. We were calmly talking to her and she started screaming this is my house! This is my house!!! The police officer told her to sit on the porch and not move but defiantly she walked into her appartment building slamming the door right in the officers face. I was just standing there outside with the guy that made the call in the first place so I was kind of freaked out so I walked into the appartment building and walked up the stairs until I found officer Doyle. He was trying to get the woman out of her appartment but she wouldnt open the door. So he called in reinforcements and after a while they decided they had to kick the door down! So two of the officers kicked her door down and took her to the jail for public intox and interference. It was so crazy!!!!!! After that night I realized that it would be cool to be a police officer! So now I am thinking about pursuing that as a career I guess we will see! But that was definitely a fun night that I will never forget!