Drug addiction in our society has long been associated with a lack of willpower. I am here to tell you that there is more to the story. There is an abundance of research detailing the plausibility of genetic predisposition to addiction in humans.
Photo credit: Mycroyance on Flickr creative commons. Available: http://bit.ly/15umG2O
Under the supervision of Dr. Bamji, Dr. Andrea Globa and her colleagues conducted a research experiment to determine the effects of how a sticky glue-like protein called cadherin was able to reduce the effects of addiction – in mice. In this experiment, cocaine was administered to the mice when they entered a specific chamber during the experiment to evoke a potential addiction to the drug. Cocaine was chosen as there has been extensive work done in similar fields with the same drug. Cadherin is this sticky glue-like protein that is present at connections between cells in the brain called synapses. These synapses act as the gap between nerve cells that allow electrical impulses from the brain to pass through to the body. Dr. Globa was conducting her experiment to see how these proteins would affect the mice exposed to cocaine versus those that were not. The results of Dr. Globa’s experiment were unexpected. The results showed that mice with higher levels of this protein in their brain would not allow for the connections to strengthen. This meant that the “drug memory” could not be formed and was, therefore, preventing the addiction from developing.
Photo credit: UBC – The effects of cadherin on developing cocaine addictions in mice.
We conducted our own interview with Dr. Globa and discussed her research. We developed a podcast and video to accompany this blog post in hopes that it will help better explain the importance of this research. The podcast elicits the importance of Dr. Globa’s research and how humans may benefit from further research in this field.
The following video depicts how mice with increased protein levels are impartial to which chamber they visit because the protein has not allowed their brain to create an addiction to the administered cocaine.
Although the results of the experiment are exciting and seemingly optimistic, Dr. Globa made sure to explain that it is still too early to determine what implications this will have on humans. Dr. Globa’s research was another step forward on the long road to developing an understanding genetic predisposition to addiction.
Author: Ryan Berg, Ellen Chen, Nic Wu, Celia Dossot
With all the love and joy that pets bring us, it is no surprise that they can also help us manage our mental health. For many pet owners, the presence of their little companion is not only a great source of joy but also a comforting presence.
Additionally, a recent study done on people struggling with long-term mental health conditions found that “pets should be considered a main, rather than a marginal source of support, in the management of long-term mental health problems” – highlighting their therapeutic potential.
Public Domain on pxhere
This is especially helpful for the mentally ill who often find themselves distanced from their family and friends. Having a companion can ease the isolation and bring about feelings of acceptance without judgement.
Among the successes of NASA’s (National Aeronautical & Space Administration) Apollo program, there are a number of failures. I hope that this can enlighten the readers as to the low points of the Apollo Program. Apollo 13 became one of the most infamous missions in the program due to the dramatization of the events in the 1995 film, “Apollo 13”. Unfortunately, Apollo 13 was not the first failure of the Apollo program. Apollo 1 experienced an onboard fire while conducting simulated pre-flight checks on January 27, 1967. All 3 crew members died as a result of the accident. Following an investigation into the fire, the Command Module underwent numerous safety advancements. This was a tremendous set back for the program, and the following five missions were reduced to unmanned missions to allow for proper testing of the new command module design.
Voice recording of Commander Gus Grissom during the fire on board Apollo 1 (viewer discretion is advised)
Three years later on April 11, 1970, Apollo 13 was preparing to launch to the Moon at 1313hrs (1:33 pm). Soon after it would enter the moon’s gravity on April 13. Coincidence or not, the number thirteen seemed to be a theme for the crew of the Apollo 13. Two days into their mission to the Fra Mauro Highlands an explosion in Oxygen tank 2 led to a temporary system failure and forced the crew to power down the command module (spaceship) and transfer to the lunar module (moon lander). This meant that the lunar landing aborted and the Apollo 13 crew would be on a return trajectory back to Earth.
Apollo 13 Trajectory
Let us return back to Apollo 1 to consider the changes made in the design of the Command Module. Well, what did we learn from this event? Many lessons were noted that fateful day. For starters, the cabin atmosphere was reduced from 100% oxygen to a 60% oxygen and 40% nitrogen mix. For those who are unaware, pure oxygen is extremely flammable and NASA was welcoming a disaster with open arms. All flammable materials used in the construction were replaced with the self-extinguishing versions and all plumbing was insulated. In the redesign of the command module, the escape hatch was redesigned to allow outward opening in the event of an emergency. Since the pressure inside the pressurized cockpit is greater than external atmospheric pressure the hatch would always open outward with ease. An oversight that doomed the crew of Apollo 1.
Now carrying on to Apollo 13’s successful failure. Moments after recycling their oxygen tanks, a large bang was heard and communications were lost momentarily. Apollo 13 had experienced an explosion and was losing oxygen fast. Fortunately, through the collaboration of engineers and scientists, the crew was brought back to Earth safely in what has been described as NASA’s finest hour. Unlike Apollo 1, the lessons learned by Apollo 13 were not necessarily mechanical. Experience, training, communication and risk management is what saves lives
The horizon of manned space flight is bright as we move forward into the future. We must reflect on the past as to not repeat our failures.
Where would modern astronomy be without scientists like Galileo Galilei, Nicolaus Copernicus or Johannes Kepler? We probably would not be scanning the stars of the Milky Way Galaxy for exoplanets only 450 years later. We owe a lot to these scientists for their ingenuity.
NASA Exoplanet Exploration
We have moved on from handheld telescopes in the 1600’s to ones that now orbit the Earth and our Sun. More specifically, I am referring to the Kepler Space Telescope which has been operated by the National Aeronautical & Space Administration since its launch in March 2009. In the earliest days of astronomy, scientists exploration of the cosmos was limited by the technology at the time. The first handheld telescope was created by Hans Lippershey in 1608, and it wasn’t until 1990 when the Hubble Space Telescope was launched that we could begin to learn more about our past. Kepler took to the skies 19 years later for a precise mission to understand more about our Milky Way Galaxy.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Kepler’s job is simple. Launch up from Earth and orbit around the Sun where it will scan the same 150,000 stars in the Cygnus constellations. In doing so, NASA is hoping to confirm the existence of exoplanets orbiting stars outside of our solar system. It is remarkable, to think that in just over 400 years we have progressed from an Earth-centric model of our solar system; to understanding and accepting that we revolve around the Sun and finally to confirm the existence of thousands of planets orbiting hundreds of thousands of stars. This is just the tip of the iceberg to discovering life on other planets.
Kepler uses what is known as the transit photometry method to discover exoplanets. This means that Kepler stares at the same 150,000 stars looking for a decrease in the amount of light produced by any star in its field of view. When these dips in light have been recorded various times astronomers can confirm the existence of an exoplanet using data analysis. The following video demonstrates the transit photometry method at an accelerated rate.
Youtube NASA Video Channel
The transit photometry method is currently our best opportunity for discovering more exoplanets. We have seen a tremendous increase in confirmed discoveries since its launch, and Kepler is consistently delivering more confirmed exoplanets every day. Unfortunately, Kepler encountered technical difficulties in 2014 and its mission was restructured and released as K2. Its mission has been altered but currently remains in service.
The scientific advancements made by the Kepler team at NASA are on the cutting edge of astronomical discovery. Due to low federal funding in space exploration, I believe this is a subject that deserves more of the public’s attention. There was a time when we thought we were alone in the universe, it is becoming abundantly clear we may have had neighbours the entire time.
“Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” – Arthur C. Clarke
If you are a student and a month has passed since the last time that you checked your mails, hung out with your friends, or played your favourite game, you may be in danger of dying. Although studying itself does not sound very fatal, it comes with consequences. Sitting for a long time, lacking sleep, and overstressing, are three serious consequences of overstudying which can actually lead to death.
According to CNN “sitting too long can kill you, even if you exercise”. With no doubt school needs hard work. As a science student most of us may spend our days sitting in the library studying for the next test or doing our assignments, feeling productive and delighted while it could be not as much beneficial as we think. According to Thomas Jefferson School of Law sitting for a long time is a source of Pulmonary Embolisms (P.E.) which can lead to sudden cardiac death. In simple words sitting for a long time can lead to formation of blood clots which movement in body can cause sudden death.
Blood Clots in Veins / Thomas Jefferson School of Law website
The other fatal consequence of overstudying is lack of sleep. During exam periods student usually experience sleep deprivation. According to a study at Chicago Medical Institute sleep deprivation which simply is lack of sleep can cause serious diseases, such as heart disease and mental illness and in extreme cases it can cause death.
A neuroscience researcher, sleeping at work / The Connectome Website
Finally the most serious and the most common danger threatening students is overstressing. Almost all of the student will get stressed for their upcoming exams and deadlines which are many in each term. As stated in Boston Magazine Stress may take a toll on your mind, body, and heart. Researchers observed a strong correlation between activity in the brain and subsequent cardiac events, such as heart attack, stroke, and angina. An 18-year-old girl from Lahore passed away due to exam stress regarding to PARHLO.
As the last and interesting real example, in 1900, Harvard Law School student William T. Parker Jr. went crazy during an exam. He was then sent to a hospital, where he died several days later of “an abscess on the brain caused by overstudy,” according to the New York Times.
New York Times
As a conclusion studying may be the most important job that a student have but immoderation in anything can be harmful. An organized and moderate daily plan can be solution for a excellent academical and personal life. Overstuding can cause serious mental and physical problems which in extreme cases can lead to death. It may sound like a joke but understudying can be better than overstudying.
Where would modern astronomy be without scientists like Galileo Galilei, Nicolaus Copernicus or Johannes Kepler? We probably would not be scanning the stars of the Milky Way for exoplanets only 450 years later. We owe a lot to these scientists for their ingenuity.
We have moved on from the days of handheld telescopes in the 1600’s to ones that now orbit the Earth and our Sun. More specifically, I am referring to the Kepler Space Telescope which has been operated by the National Aeronautical & Space Administration since its launch in March 2009. In the earliest days of astronomy, scientists exploration of the cosmos was limited by the technology at the time. The first handheld telescope was created by Hans Lippershey in 1608, and it wasn’t until 1990 when the Hubble Space Telescope was launched that we could begin to learn more about our past. Kepler took to the skies 19 years later for a more focused and significant mission (in my humble opinion as a student of astronomy).
Kepler’s job is simple. Launch up from Earth and be placed in a heliocentric orbit where it will scan the same 150,000 stars in the Cygnus constellations. In doing so, NASA is hoping to confirm the existence of exoplanets orbiting stars outside of our solar system. This is fascinating, to think that in just over 400 years we have progressed from a geocentric model of our solar system to accepting that we revolve around the sun and to finally acknowledge the existence of thousands of planets orbiting hundreds of thousands of stars. This is quite literally just the tip of the iceberg to discovering life on other planets.
Kepler uses what is known as the transit method to discover these exoplanets. This means that Kepler stares at the same 150,000 stars looking for a decrease in the amount of light produced by any star, once these dips in light have been recorded by repeating observations, astronomers can confirm the existence of an exoplanet. This video shows what I described.
I believe that the transit photometry method is currently our best opportunity to discovering more exoplanets. We have seen a tremendous increase in confirmed exoplanets since its launch, and Kepler is consistently delivering more confirmed exoplanets to present day. Unfortunately, Kepler encountered technical difficulties in 2014 and its mission was restructured and released as K2, its mission has been altered but it remains in service to this day.
This blog is on the same topic as my individual short presentation I gave last week. As a CMS student focussing on Physics/Astronomy, Math, and Earth & Ocean Sciences these scientific advancements are on the cutting edge of astronomical discovery and I believe it is a subject that deserves our attention. Although we may have thought at one point to be unique in this universe, it is becoming abundantly clear we may have neighbours.
“Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” – Arthur C. Clarke