Fake vs. Real (4/6)

Submitted by kheredia on Tue, 09/10/2019 - 20:46

What is it that distinguishes an artificial plant from genuine? An obvious but time consuming method is to observe the plant throughout the changing seasons, and if it does change color based on the weather, that only confirms that the plant is fake. Another way is to neglect it completely. By abandoning the plant, it must decompose. If it does not rot, then it would be correct to say that the plant is not real. What about more direct and quick approaches? Using any of the five senses can quickly determine whether the plant is real or fake. Smelling is more ambiguous, as not all plants give off a notable scent. Sight can be debated, because many replicas of plants are almost identical to the original. This may even deceive insects enough to settle on top of a fake plant. Thus, using insects as a measure for genuinity is not reliable. Touching or taste, however, are more accurate ways to measure the difference between fake and real. Touching is an immediate confirmation, because artificial plants have a fabric-like feel and are very resilient to bending: They can be bent without breaking. Real plants are not as sturdy. They can be torn easily and leaves are fragile. Genuine plants also have an earthy taste, wheras the taste of a replica may be absent or taste like cloth. In summation, there are various ways to test a plant's authenticity, though some bear quick results and are more valid than others. 

Methods Draft 1

Submitted by damianszyk on Tue, 09/10/2019 - 20:43

Today after my classes, I was walking back to the bus stop to go back to my place and do some work. On the way to the bus stop, I couldn't help but look at most of the plants and leaves as I walked because of this assignment. As I walked out of Morill, I took a look at the first planted tree in the area and noticed that a few of the leaves had holes in the middle of them that could be due to insects eating them. Along with the holes, I also noticed a brown coloring around the holes suggesting rotting of the leaves. Later in the day on my way back from the gym, I was passing Boyden and noitced holes in a few leaves that were hanging from a tree. These were located on the back side closer to the lacrosee field near the parking lot. On these leaves, the holes were larger than the ones I found earlier in the day near Morill. There is plenty of evidence of phytophagy across the whole campus of UMass that need to be photographed to show others.

Draft 3

Submitted by dfmiller on Tue, 09/10/2019 - 20:16

"Oh I bet they have the cure for cancer, they just don't want to relesase it because it's much more lucrative to treat it instead." I have heard some variation of this comment from friends, family, and strangers too many times to count. As someone who has had family members affected by cancer, this comment is not only ill-informed, but extremely hurtful. My experience with cancer was one of the factors that led me to persue a career in oncology. Now, in my educational career, I have learned extensively of the true nature of this terrible disease-it's an incredibly individual illness. The approach that seems to be the most promising revolves around identifying particular membrane-bound identifiers of cancer and attacking it via the body's immune system. The cure for cancer is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but requires individulized medicine. The more I research cancer and study its identifiers, the more and more complex a cure for even a single type of cancer becomes. If more people knew how varied cancer truly is and how difficult it is to even isolate a cancer cell from normal body cells, I believe this whole medical conspiracy wouldn't  have any legs to stand on.

summary of an article and history of sickle cell anemia

Submitted by ziweiwang on Tue, 09/10/2019 - 20:15

The paper that I read is the Effect of Acute exercise on RBC deformability and RBC Nitric Oxide Synthase Signalling Pathway in young sickle cell anemia patients. The goal of the research was to see if exercise negatively affected patients with sickle cell anemia. The key finding of the study was that there was a slight decrease in red blood cell deformability in children who have sickle cell anemia. Red Blood Cell deformability is the red blood cell’s ability to bend when squeezing through the blood vessels. However, the paper ultimately concludes that even though the RBC deformability in children in sickle blood cells was lower compared to children without sickle cell anemia, overall, exercise does not negatively impact RBC deformability in children with sickle cell anemia. The impact of the paper in sickle cell research is that it rules out the role of exercise in the factors that worsen the symptoms of sickle cell anemia. 


Grau, M et al Effect of acute exercise on RBC deformability and RBC nitric oxide synthase signaling pathway in young sickle cell anemia patients, Scientific Reports. 9, 2045-2322 (2019)


1910 is considered to be the year that the disease was discovered. James B Herrick noticed that in the blood of his patients that their blood cells were in the shape of a sickle, and as a result named the disease like sickle cell anemia. However, the hereditary nature of sickle cell anemia was only found out since 1949 when it was demonstrated by Dr. James Neel. Linus Pauling then discovered that the disease was due to a structural change in the hemoglobin in 1951.


Methods Draft 1

Submitted by semans on Tue, 09/10/2019 - 19:21

The pictures were all taken at 8:45AM on a sunny, windless day. First, a pen was held next to the subject. Then, a smartphone camera with flash turned off was aimed at the specimen, such that the camera was held flat and pointed directly at the specimen without angling the camera. Then, with the pen slightly offset, hand holding the pen out of shot, and the subject at the centre of the shot, several pictures were taken. The images were then self-emailed.

At 9:00AM a picture contextualizing the phytophagy was taken. The picture was taken from the path next to the divot and about ten metres down from the pedestrian crossing. The shot was taken from eye level, pointing the smartphone camera directly towards the hillock, and placing the specimen’s location more or less centrally in the picture. The bottom two thirds of the shot were made up of hillside and the top third was forest, including the subject of the close-up image. The images were then self-emailed.

Atmospheric Science

Submitted by mpetracchi on Tue, 09/10/2019 - 16:42

The study of the climate, specifically winds and precipitation, has helped me understand more about the earth and why it is we experience what we do. It all begins with the sun’s solar radiation reaching the earth. Between 30 degrees North and South, known as the tropics, is where the sun’s solar radiation hits its most direct. It varies due to the tilt of the earth, with the equator in the dead center. At the equator, the rays heat the surface and produce pockets of warm air, which rise due to a lower density than the cool air around it. This rise in warm air creates a low-pressure zone. As the air pocket increases in altitude, its heat is transferred to the surrounding air and the carrying capacity of water in the previously warm air decreases. This causes the formation of water droplets and clouds. For this reason, the equator experiences a lot of precipitation. Once the air has cooled it is carried north and south from the equator until 30 degrees North and South where it cools and falls. This process is known as subsidence. At these latitudes, there is high pressure and therefore no clouds or precipitation. This specific rotation of air near the equator is known as a Hadley cell. There are two more cells known as Ferrell, and Polar cells. Ferrell cells are an intermediate between Hadley and Polar cells and occur between 30 and 60 degrees. Above that is where the polar cell exists. These wind patterns help us determine what are known as prevailing winds; winds that are observed consistently and can be used to make predictions on the climate at any given location.  When looking at a map of the earth, these winds always point towards either 0 or 60 degrees latitude and away from 30 and 90 degrees latitude. This is because at 30 and 90 degrees there are pockets of high atmospheric pressure generated by the subsidence effect, and fluids tend to flow from high to low pressure, therefore away from 30 and 90 degrees. 


Water Bottle Discussions

Submitted by rmmcdonald on Tue, 09/10/2019 - 12:29

Why invest in a high quality, name brand water bottle? 

I will not reveal the brand of what water bottle I believe to be objectively the best until the end to prevent preconceived judgements. Before the components of a water bottle are tested, the company from which the water bottle is purchased must be considered. How is the customer service? People may believe water bottle companies do not need customer service, but when investing $20 or more in a high quality water bottle they should be there to support you with this product just as if you were to buy a blender. The particular brand that I champion has any easily accessible messaging forum as well as a number ready for you to call. No proof of purchase is necessary when you are applying for a warranty fulfillment. They understand that not many people purchase their water bottles from the website itself, so if you are reporting a broken cap they will send you a new one, no questions asked. They will pay for shipping and the new cap. Instead of having to buy a new water bottle every time it breaks, they will send you a new one for free. Lifetime warranties and ease of customer services must never be overlooked when purchasing products. Not only will the customer service of this brand save you money, it will also save you valuable time. To request a new water bottle, the form takes approximately 5 minutes to fill out and you will receive a response in 24 hours. In my experience I received my product within 5 days of the request. There are more components as to why you should purchase a water bottle from this company, so I will expand in later drafts. Again the name of this brand will be withheld in order to avoid any preconceived judgments linked to this water bottle.

Cody Draft 3/6

Submitted by kheredia on Tue, 09/10/2019 - 11:15

Living near farmland can be beneficial as there are several opportunities to observe wildlife in my apartment's backyard. Today in particular I took a close look at the neighborhood horse, Cody. From viewing distance, he reaches six and a half feet tall and looks to be very well fed. Cody's coat is a burnt orange while his mane and tail is more of a blonde. His most notable characteristic is his large hooves. They are easily the size of a human face and have a tough exterior. Usually, his owners braid both his mane and tail, but today that feature was absent in the horse's appearance. Cody almost always allows strangers to get close to him, which is a sign of comfortable exposure to humans as well as confirmation that he is well taken care of. He frequently is let out during the evening to graze for at least an hours worth, and only sometimes is he out and about beforehand. Other than the few random periods where he is out in the mornings or afternoons, his schedule is mostly consistent. 

Draft 3

Submitted by ashorey on Tue, 09/10/2019 - 10:09

Friends of mine are in another Writing in Biology class and were given the task of reading multiple types of articles and scientific papers, like research articles, funding proposals, manufacturer guides, etc. One very interesting article they were given that my friend shared with me was about organoid research. Organoids are created from collecting cell samples, for example epithelial human cells, treated them with just the right compounds to revert them back to stem cells, and then controlling the differentiation process to produce organs from the human genome in vitro. The scientists highlighted in the article were specifically growing stems cells into neurons that mimics the human brain. The organoids started very small and simple. Eventually the research brought the scientists to add other matter to the organoids like retna cells and a way of connecting to a insect-like robot. These branches gave the growing organoids spacial awareness and the ability to respond to light. So after, the cells were producing organized synchronized neurological signals, similar to the brain waves found in a premature baby. Although this research started with stem cells to replicate a brain to study the pathways of rare diseases, it seemed to quickly be going somewhere else. The ethics of the research is now far more questionable: if the organoid can sense light and space, what happens if it develops senses of pain, emotions, and consciousness? Researchers have claimed that might be impossible, but lets consider if it really is. The organoid can continue to grow cells, increasing size and become more and more complex. This reminds me of as late as the 1940s, scientists were convinced babies could not feel pain. This statement was based off of the observation of babies when dealt mild pain, and adults concluded they did not respond differently. To us now, this seems abserd, but it wasn't until 1987 that it was officially made unethical to operate on babies without anesthetics (https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2017/07/28/when-babies-felt-pain/Lhk2OKonfR4m3TaNjJWV7M/story.html). If we treated fully formed children with this little care, why would we even ask the question is these organoids could feel or sense? I would answer, because we should consider what the possibilities of this science are and how our research should be adjusted accordingly. If these organoids could become self-aware, it would be entirely wrong to continue experimenting on and altering them, but do we kill them and grow younger, less complex ones? Is killing them ethical because the organoids weren't naturally created, or is it murder? All these questions should be considered and weighted in this research. 


Submitted by damianszyk on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 23:07

The other day in my genetics class, we were talking about cloning and the idea of cloning your own pets such as dogs and cats came up. Although I don't have neither a cat or dog, I still would be againt cloning one of my pets. Aside from the ridiculous idea of cloning your pet, the price to do so was even more outrageous. It costs $50,000 to clone your dog and $25,000 to clone your cat. We took a class poll to see what the majority of people would answer to whether they would their pet, and the majority of the class voted no. This did not surprise me at all since this was never topic of discussion that has been brought up with anyone that I've ever talked to. I guess a valid reason to clone your pet is if it dies suddenly to a traggic accident; but even then, is that what's best to do?


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