Category Archives: Science, Tech, & Health

Hurricane Irma: Can it be as dangerous as Harvey or Katrina?

Twelve years ago, Hurricane Wilma made landfall in the United States, hitting Florida, causing 62 deaths and estimated damage totals in the billions. Last month, Hurricane Harvey became the first major storm to hit the United States in 12 years and it destroyed the majority of Houston, leaving thousands homeless and costing billions of dollars in damage. While the cleanup began in Texas, another storm was building up in the Atlantic Ocean, and this storm would become one of the strongest hurricanes on record. The storm named Irma now aims for Florida with evil intentions on its mind.

Hurricane Irma sweeps over the Caribbean.
Photo from BusinessInsider.com

Currently, Irma is a category 3 hurricane with winds of 125 mph. That might not sound as intimidating as a category 5 hurricane with winds of 185 mph as Irma was just 3 days ago. Each storm is different; they have their own DNA and are formed in various ways. The main factor in each storm is where they hit, You can have the most dangerous storm on record and it stays away from land. Which is why most likely you’ve never heard of Marie and Patricia, storms off in the Pacific Ocean.

The main factor of a hurricane becoming famous is where it goes. Hurricanes want to travel north but with the pull of the wind, they usually end up hitting land before being absorbed by another system, or start spinning around in a circle in the ocean like a hopeless football fan waiting for the NFL season to start.  The Saffir-Simpson scale was updated in 2010 to measure the factor of hurricanes’ effect on major cities.  A category 2 can have more effect on a major city than a category 5 in a rural area, and when a category 3, 4, or 5 hits a major city, it equals catastrophic conditions that made Harvey and Katrina the perfect storms. Irma is on the path to join them, killing 60+ in the Caribbean already. We hope that everyone is well prepared for Irma and we hope for the damage to be minimal.

Maybe the Weather is Getting Better for Short People

Finally, shorter people get the last laugh, and it is in regards their health.  For the longest time, people who are shorter than 5’7″ have been the cow’s rear of jokes, and even a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research states that tall people are happier than shorter people. Now, new studies from CBS  News show that shorter people are less likely to develop DVTs or deep vein thrombosis than taller folks.

Photo from dailyexpress.com

A DVT is more or less a blood clot but they are very dangerous to your health as they start in your legs and they travel up to your lungs, raising the risk of a stroke. They sometimes occur after a long flight on an airplane and are referred to as “economy class syndrome”.  Why do shorter people have an advantage?  Well, according to Dr. Bengt Zoller, it starts with leg veins. Taller people have longer veins which means there are more areas for trouble to start.

Over 600,000 people in the United States develop some type of blood clot each year, according to the American Heart Association. There are many different types of risk factors that contribute to blood clots like surgery and cancer. Even through there is no official link yet as to why taller people get more blood clots there was a 40+ years research project in Sweden that studied sibling pairs of male soldiers and pregnant women. This study threw out genetic and environmental factors and found that men who are shorter than 5’3″ are 65 percent less likely to develop a blood clot than men who are 6’2.” Life gives its roses and sometimes its lemons. Dr. Zoller stated in a journal that “height is not something we can do anything about” and of course we can not do anything about our heights as it is a part of our genetics. Height is something we have to live with. It does not matter if you are 6’7″ or 4’5″; we are all human and that’s something that will connect us no matter what.

Opinion: Global Warming and A Note to Rush

This was the final straw; I have had it.  What Rush Limbaugh said about hurricane forecasts being “liberal conspiracies” so scientists can advance their “agenda” on global warming was completely erroneous.  Mr.  Limbaugh, hurricanes have been going on for thousands of years now and as matter of fact, the deadliest hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean was in the 1700’s. That hurricane killed over 20,000 people. Now, you want to say hurricanes are conspiracies – they are a part of the earth’s natural weather cycle! What’s next, are blizzards completely fictional storms from Frosty the Snowman or do we take tornados too seriously; they ain’t that bad, they’re just spinning clouds? Even that wasn’t the low blow. You tucked your tail between your legs and “evacuated” from Florida.  Oh come on Rush, you said yourself that Irma was not even that bad of a storm; it was blown out of proportion to advance an agenda. Wait, you changed your mind; you want to live so you can keep spitting out the same old crap that you have been saying for years now.

A mugshot of Rush Limbaugh; photo from The Smoking Gun
A mugshot of Rush Limbaugh; photo from The Smoking Gun

Nothing is going to change the fact that Irma is not a normal hurricane; that’s why Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, has tried to beat into everyone’s head that they need to evacuate from the vulnerable areas in Florida. Then what Limbaugh said most likely led to thousands of his “followers” staying put while he goes and hightails it out of Florida.  How can you believe in what you say, then retract it by leaving yourself? That’s just being a hypocrite, and I hate them; I hate to even use that word. That word is only used for special occasions when you catch someone in a lie. I’m not here to defend or support liberals but I’m not here on the conservatives’ side.

Rush, I hope you pass by this page and read this article; I will gladly give you the link to Science Magazine’s website and a history lesson in science on the studies of weather.  Most likely you will start talking bologna on that “talk show” of yours. Who knows, maybe you might say sorry to the people whose lives that you risked with your comments. I won’t be holding my breath on that one.

P.S. I hope you like the mugshot. I didn’t forget and neither should you.

 

Latest on iPhone 8 and When it Might be Released

Apple’s newest smartphone will be on every teenager’s Christmas list, and yet we haven’t gotten the usual conference from Apple introducing the phone.  Here’s the latest on when the iPhone will come out and what types there will be to choose from.

In August, Apple sent out invitations to journalists to an event on September 12 at its newest headquarters. Usually, this means that the week after the event, the device will be released. While everyone is jumping up and down in joy, they might want to reconsider after seeing the changes and price of the phone.

The Apple Logo

There are rumors circling around that the phone has a price tag of almost $1000! You might want to keep that iPhone7 for a couple more years. The colors look like they’re going to be the same; however, there is a third color thought to be a rose gold or copper along with the standard black and white colors. The screen gets major upgrades (or downgrades) as the button in the middle is gone and you get a full screen, an edge-to-edge display.  The screen will be as big as an iPhone7+ but the phone will be the size of an iPhone7.

Gone along with the home button is the Touch ID fingerprint scanner; to replace it is a new infrared scanner that uses a facial recognition software. This was developed in response to Samsung’s Galaxy 8’s similar technology. Of course with a new iPhone comes with it a new iOS that will be available to users of older iPhones.  Also, there is an update to the camera as now it will have 3D to go with the facial scanning. The biggest problem Apple has is wireless charging; they will try to answer the issues but don’t expect a solution this year but rather a new version next year.

Apple is undoubtedly recognized by all Americans. Expect a lot of people to wait in line, drop $1000, and brag about forgetting to pay their bills just to get a small brick.

Weekly App Review: Zello

Photo from zello.com
Photo from zello.com

Today, starts a new weekly series where I will review some of the best apps for college students and rate them from a 1 to 10 scale.

However, to make the series fair, there will be three rules to follow by:

1. Apps must be free to the user. However, this excludes apps that are free but have in-game purchases like Madden Mobile and Temple Run.

2. Apps must be low users of data, so that will disqualify  Madden from future consideration.

3. Apps must be on both Android and Apple Play stores.

So with that, let’s get started.

With this hurricane season being as bad as it has been, people have to get creative when the power goes out. So in comes Zello, the walkie talkie on your phone.  Zello claims that its app works with 4G, 3G, 2G, and WiFi, claims most apps can’t make. With over 50 million downloads in the Google Play Store and a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars, this app has the fame to back itself up. But does it have enough to stand with me?

The app has over 10 MB to download which isn’t too bad, and it did not take long at all for it to download for me.  I realize when I open the app, Zello wants me to create an account with a username and everything just like in college. Just something else you have to remember. It also wants access to phone contacts, photos, and text messages, another thing I don’t care for. After accepting its requests, it now wants me to create a profile. That takes me about 5 minutes to finish, and now Zello is available for use. Without even using it yet, I notice my battery level and see it is down to 88% from 95% in those 5 minutes.

When testing the audio, I am impressed that the audio I recorded was crystal clear compared to apps like Tango and Facebook Messenger. However, just like any app. when the cell towers go down, the app will not work.  So that means the app is only good for conservations and not even for storms when the power goes out. Now that’s a major bummer.

This app is just like Tango and Facebook Messenger which are just like Zello but with video chats. If you are trying to save on data plans, I would recommend for you to download this app; otherwise just keep your Messenger.

Rating: Five out of Ten stars: More like Jello

 

 

NASA Finds Other Habitable Planets in Deep Space

On February 22, 2017, NASA revealed their Spitzer Space Telescope has found seven exoplanets near the constellation Aquarius. While all seven planets can hold liquid water, three of the planets are securely located in a habitable zone, skyrocketing this discovery to the best chance of otherworldly life on planets outside our solar system. “This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life . . . Answering the question ‘are we alone’ is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate.

NASA
“On February 22, 2017, NASA revealed their Spitzer Space Telescope has found seven exoplanets near the constellation Aquarius.” Photo from: www.jpl.nasa.gov

NASA has named this exoplanet system TRAPPIST-1. This research is ongoing and NASA released news about this solar system in May 2016, when only three planets were discovered. All of the planets included in TRAPPIST-1 are likely rocky, based on the density measured by Spitzer.

Michael Gillon, the principal investigator of the TRAPPIST-1, says, “The exoplanets are the first Earth-size planets that have been found orbiting this kind of star . . . It is also the best target yet for studying the atmospheres of potentially habitable, Earth-size worlds.”

This discovery will serve as a base-model for research regarding life beyond our own.

People interpret emojis in different ways

Emojis are used very widely by a diverse range of people. A recent study hoped to find how individuals interpret emojis, and if there was a general consensus among individuals about what different emojis meant.

The study, led by researchers from a Research lab, called GroupLens, at the University of Minnesota, found that individuals often view emojis in different ways. The discoveries will be presented in May at the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence’s Conference on Web and Social Media in Germany.

Emojis can be cryptic in meaning. Graphic from Get Emoji
Emojis can be cryptic in meaning. Graphic from Get Emoji

The study discovered that individuals who viewed the same emoji disagreed on if the emoji expressed a negative, neutral or positive feeling approximately 25 percent of the time. For 95 percent of emojis, individuals did not strongly agree on what feeling the emoji expressed.

Each mobile platform has its own version of emojis, because of this, interpreting emojis can be particularly problematic when the sender and the receiver are using separate platforms.

The study’s participants, made up of 334 individuals, rated a total of 125 emojis. They were asked to rate the feeling expressed by an emoji on a scale from –5 (strongly negative) to 5 (strongly positive).

The researchers discovered, on average, that when two individuals viewed the same emoji, their feeling ratings were different by approximately 1.8 points, and when they looked at different versions of the same emoji, their ratings were different by approximately 2 points.

Individuals used contrasting words to describe the different renderings of the same emojis. For instance, when viewing the emoji of a “person raising both hands in celebration” individuals used words like “hand” or “celebrate” to describe the emoji from the Apple version, and words like “exciting” or “high” to describe the Microsoft version.

According to the study, the findings suggest that it would benefit users to merge the design of emojis across all platforms, which could lower the probability of miscommunication.

According to researchers, future studies may determine how individuals view emojis when they are viewed in the context of a text message, or if individuals from separate cultures also view emojis differently. Because the new study only looked at emoji with human characteristics, or anthropomorphic, future studies could investigate how individuals view non-anthropomorphic emojis.

The brain connectivity of LSD and “ego dissolution”

When individuals take the psychedelic drug Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), they may feel as though the limits that isolate them from everything have disintegrated, as though they are connected with the rest of the world. A study has discovered a neural mechanism behind this occurrence, called “ego dissolution.”

According to the researchers, the study’s results, published April 13 in the journal Current Biology, suggest that further research on LSD and other psychedelic drugs could provide important insight into how the human brain works.

Ego dissolution is not a universally positive or negative experience, said Enzo Tagliazucchi. Tagliazucchi is  a neuroscientist at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in Amsterdam and co-author of the story. According to Tagliazucchi, depending on the experience of the trip and ego dissolution, it can be too overwhelming and lead to anxiety, panic and what is normally dubbed a “bad trip”.

Ego dissolution is at the core of the treatment of anxiety related to the fear of death in such patients. According to Tagliazucchi, for terminal-stage cancer patients, ego dissolution “can be a positive and transformative experience, leading to peace, acceptance, a new perspective on things.”

According to Tagliazucchi, the findings additionally propose that taking LSD may cause an improved sharing of data among various brain regions that reinforces a more powerful connection between an individual’s sense of self and their sense of everything else.

This is your brain on LSD. Graphic from Imperial College London.

In the study, the researchers examined the brains, through scanning, of 15 healthy individuals twice — once after they took a placebo, and once after the individuals took LSD.

The researchers discovered that, when the individuals were high on LSD, different regions of their brains had a stronger link to each other, when compared with the placebo’s effect on the individuals. The more connected these brain regions were in these individuals, the higher their sense of ego dissolution was.

According to the researchers, the results of the study suggest that individuals on LSD can experience ego dissolution because these brain regions become heavily interconnected.

According to Tagliazucchi, ego dissolution does not automatically occur every time someone takes LSD. The experience of this phenomenon may depend on the dose of the drug they take. When ego dissolution happens, it doesn’t last longer than the other effects of LSD, which typically last about 10 hours.

According to Tagliazucchi, he is planning to investigate how other psychedelic drugs modify consciousness by using neuroimaging and other methods.

Brain implant allows paralyzed man move his hands using his thoughts

After diving into a shallow wave at a beach and hitting the sandy bottom, Ian Burkhart severely injured his spinal cord and became paralyzed when he was only 19 years old. He lost the ability to use his legs and forearms due to where the injury occurred on his body.

According to a recent study, Burkhart, now 24 years old, has recovered his ability to move his wrist, hand and some of his fingers by using an electrical device that was implanted into his brain. The electrical device is connected to a sleeve of electrodes that he wears on his forearm.

Burkhart has recovered the functional movements by using the electrical device, said Chad Bouton. Bouton is the lead author of the study published April 13 in the journal Nature and the division leader, at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in New York, of neurotechnology and analytics.

Ian Burkhart, first person to benefit from the neural bypass technology. Image from Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center/Batelle.

According to Bouton, in order for Burkhart to recover his individual finger movements, the researchers had to discover and decipher certain brain signals. Soon after, they had to evaluate the electrical impulse pattern required to release on his forearm.

The researchers and doctors embedded a device with microelectrodes into the part of the brain that controls movement, his motor cortex. When Burkhart wears the sleeve, he has the ability to move and control his arm using brain-computer-interface technology, to translate these signals into electrical pulses in an individual’s’ brain, by using a computer. The sleeve’s 130 electrodes emits electrical impulses to his muscles, which makes them contract.

In an individual who is not paralyzed, signals from the brain move down the spinal cord to nerves connected to muscles in the body, making those muscles move. In paralyzed individuals, because of spinal cord injury, these signals still happen in the brain, yet can’t be transmitted to muscles. To deliver the signals directly to Burkhart’s muscles, the microchip in his brain and the electrode sleeve bypass the injury.

Burkhart can now complete daily tasks with his hand, including the ability to swipe a credit card, pour water into a cup and play Guitar Hero, with the electrical device’s help.

Fundamentally, Burkhart has the ability to make these movements by “mastering his thoughts,” said Dr. Ali Rezai. Rezai is a neurosurgeon at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center where Burkhart was treated, and senior author of the study.

According to researchers, Burkhart’s capacity to move several of his fingers is a noteworthy discovery. They hope that one day this electrical device technology could help other individuals with paralysis, as well as individuals who, due to strokes or traumatic brain injuries, have lost movement.

NSA surveillance: protection or violation?

The National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) claims that the “NSA/CSS exists to protect the Nation”.

In 2013, a federal U.S. judge ruled that the National Security Agency phone surveillance program was lawful. The agency, however, is known to break the law on a large scale and lie about it.

If you’ve never heard the name Edward Snowden uttered in any political debate or in the news, you should probably learn the importance of his name. Edward Snowden is a former Intelligence Community officer and has been called anywhere from a hero, a whistleblower, a patriot, or a traitor. In May 2013, he revealed documents that provided a look into the NSA and its secret mass surveillance programs and capabilities.

The documents disclosed that the NSA was operating without public oversight and outside the limits of the US Constitution. Snowden was charged with theft of government property, and two charges under the 1917 Espionage Act. The revelations that Snowden divulged led to attention around the world on privacy intrusions and digital security, and now the issue is a global debate.

In an interview with The Guardian, Edward Snowden said, “I don’t want to live in a world where everything I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity and love or friendship is recorded.”

Do any of us wants to live in a society that does these things? And even further with no hint of probable cause, and no sham of due process. The NSA has been thoughtlessly and carelessly forcing violence against freedom, ever since the agency was founded on November 4, 1952.

“To live with the benefits of technology, should we also have to deal with the consequences as well?” Graphic from quickmeme.com

The NSA surveillance that invades our privacy because of “national security” was a complete secret before Edward Snowden blew the “freedom” whistle. The phone surveillance violates the fourth amendment in respect to Americans’ privacy rights, and it also violates our natural sense of personal privacy.

Concerning these issues, the government is the one in violation of the laws and should be held accountable, right? But Edward Snowden was the one who was charged and seen as the traitor and as the criminal, for doing the right thing and letting us know that we’re being watched. The government is just hiding its own abusive power, and saving themselves.

To live with the benefits of technology, should we also have to deal with the consequences as well?

Benjamin Franklin, a radical defender of freedom once said, “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” This quote has been used by anti-war protestors, and for protests against the National Security Agency’s surveillance program.

The quote has many variations, and has been taken out of context multiple times and is originally “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” However, despite the lack of context and the more-modern form of the quote, believe that Benjamin Franklin would agree with what the quote has been modernized to illustrate.

Industrial technology: solving our problems or providing them?

This semester, I’ve been taking an introductory Philosophy course on Ethics and Society (PHIL 112). I’ll try my best not to ramble on about how I love the course so much, so much so that I decided to change my major from Fashion Design to Philosophy and Religious Studies.

One thing is for sure: this course has challenged my thinking on many things—especially on how we treat our world, the only world that we’ve been given. Through industrial technology and industrialization, we have become a destructive presence on Earth.

We are still dealing with the consequences of industrial technology.

We begin a kind of fragmentation of the world. We look at the world in parts, not as a whole; looking at the world as market value. Corporations and privileged people in power look to spend the least amount of money for the most profit.

“Corporations will do anything to save a penny.” Cartoonist: Justin Bilicki

We begin replacing human workers with machines, market products regardless of usefulness or effects, to make the highest possible profit and concentrate wealth in fewer and fewer hands. All with a maxim that all competition is for competition’s sake.

We can continue to insist that our land-destroying, water-and-air polluting agriculture is the only way, because it’s the most accessible and widespread way of doing so. Economically, “green” ways of production and agriculture are the most financially straining, they cost the most amount of money. Corporations will do anything to save a penny.

We live in this notion that we live on a planet that is unlimited with resources. This notion of an unlimited source of resources is because we’re ashamed about how we’ve lived in the world as a destructive presence. These natural resources that the world depends on, we use destructively and foolishly. We stay oblivious, unaware and naive of the detrimental effects of agriculture and industrialization. We’re headed towards an entire eradication of human beings and a destruction of our planet, because of our finite resources.

We are being programmed that this is supporting “our way of life”, so it is obviously beneficial. “Our ‘natural resources’ are naturally occurring, and so they will not be depleted.” Is this not a way of corruption of young minds? We are not educated to know that one day our actions will catch up to us, as they are currently doing, and will cause a landslide of “unintended” consequences.

The violence towards our own world brings money to our culture. The industrial society is the most violent the world has ever known, and we’re all complicit in it.

But technology solves our problems, right?

Gucci model judged ’unhealthily thin’

According to NDTV, the United Kingdom has banned the Italian fashion brand Gucci from using their advertisement containing what the ASA, Advertising Standards Authority, claims to be a “unhealthily thin” model. The ASA created the rule when the fashion house’s new “The Cruise 2016” campaign appeared in Britain in December of 2015.

Gucci model in ad. Photo from bragmybag.com

The ASA claimed that the model in the ad, Avery Blanchard, who is seen in one scene from the video leaning against a wall in a long-sleeve printed dress, her torso is visibly thin, which according to the New York Times, is “way too think in the way it was presented.” In now way should the model be blamed for this, however. She was simply doing what she was told, dressing and looking how the modeling industry wants her to, in order to live her dream and work as a model.

The fashion house continues to defend the video says it was created for an older, sophisticated audience and the debate of whether or not Blanchard is too thin was an interpretation meant for the individual reader.

Gucci continued to try and defend themselves by saying that nowhere in the ad were any of the model’s bones showing and that “their makeup was natural rather than heavy.” They added that the lightening use in the ad was “warm to ensure there were no hollows caused by shadows and their clothes were not revealing.”

However, like most viewers confused as to how those points have anything to do with the unhealthily thin model, the ASA was not convinced. They viewed the model’s middle section and arms says they were “quite slender and appeared to be out of proportion with her head and lower body.” The ASA decided that because of those reasons, they can’t agree or allow the ad to play in the UK, saying that the ad is “irresponsible.”

Many advertising agencies over the years have stated that models who are way too skinny to be healthy are giving young girls a bad idea of what it means to pretty, in turn, lowering their confidence and encouraging an unrealistic expectation of what a girl’s body should look like.

The broken heart syndrome phenomenon

According to Time magazine, an immense amount of research has shown that a death or the loss of a person close to you can not only break your heart metaphorically, but it can also cause physical damage that can lead to serious heart problems.

A new study published by Dr. Simon Graff finds that people who experience a partner dying are a much higher risk for atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat, and the effects are life-long.

Having a broken heart is more than just a metaphor. Graphic from Pinterest
Having a broken heart is more than just a metaphor. Graphic from Pinterest

For many years, researchers have studied the phenomena of the broken heart syndrome, or stress cardiomyopathy. This occurs when a highly stressful event, such as the death of a spouse, results in a person feeling like they’re having a heart attack. The symptoms include the same ones that occur when having a heart attack: shortness of breath and chest pain.

When an emotional event happens, researches suspect a surge of stress hormones are released which cause this feeling of having a heart attack.

Researchers looked at citizens in Denmark who were diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Out of the 88, 600 people, 41 percent of them who lost a partner were more likely to develop atrial fibrillation within the first month of their partner’s death compared to those who hadn’t lost anyone. The researchers also discovered that the risk is higher in younger people, especially when a partner as died suddenly or unexpectedly.

A cardiologist at New York University Langone Medical Center, Harmony Reynolds, states that “We can’t stop stressful situations from coming up in our lives but there may be ways to change the way stress affects our bodies.” She says regular exercise, things like yoga, meditation, and even deep breathing can increase the parasympathetic nervous system which increase our body’s ability to handle stress. However, these activities won’t be able to reduce the risk completely.

This study, as large and somewhat thorough as it is, can’t completely confirm that the feelings of grief or loss are directly related to atrial fibrillation. “Right now our work can only point to an association, but we hope to help make a shift in society’s mindset—that a time of grief is not only a mental state but maybe also physical,” says Graff, the author of the study.

Nothing’s strange about wearing earplugs to a concert?

According to Everyday Hearing, “the most common cause of hearing loss is noise-induced hearing loss.” A common misconception about noise-induced hearing loss is that it takes a lifetime of going to concerts to cause any damage, but that’s incorrect. You can damage your hearing with just one concert or one event. In fact, 26 million Americans have noise-induced hearing loss that could have been prevented.

Normal, everyday conversations reach up to 65 decibels loud. Concert music, however, can extend up to 100 to 120 decibels loud. Hearing loss can begin at a level of 110 decibels and would only take two minutes to set in.

Concerts can be very loud. It's good to prepare. Graphic from Alf Img
Concerts can be very loud. It’s good to be prepared. Graphic from Alf Img

Like anything damaging, the longer you’re exposed to it, the more damaging it will be. If you plan on attending a two hour concert, your risk of hearing loss is significant. Now imagine going to an all-day festival. Your hearing could potentially be gone all together. Extremely loud music at concerts can cause serious permanent hearing loss or tinnitus, which is is ringing or buzzing in the ears.

Not only can loud music cause hearing loss, but the hearing loss itself can cause a major decline in your overall quality of life. Hearing loss can lead to lower cognitive function, depression, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of falling.

With all of these terrible side effects considered, you should most definitely wear earplugs to concerts in order to protect your hearing. However, in order for the earplugs to correctly protect your hearing, you need to find the right ones.

If you’re going to a concert, it obviously important that you find earplugs that allow you to hear the music with good quality, and don’t sacrifice the clear quality of the music you’re there to enjoy in the first place. Choosing the generic foam earplugs will lower the music quality, making it softer and muffled. Leave the drug store earplugs for sleeping.

If you’re attending a concert, you’re best option is to choose high fidelity earplugs. These allow you to hear the music clearly while also lower the sound making it safer to listen to. You can also get some custom made if you’d like but, naturally, they would be more expensive.

Musicians today are even wearing earplugs around their own music because they understand the effects loud music can have on their ears. If the musicians are wearing the earplugs, the fans should too.

Are public restrooms dangerous?

At the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s annual meeting, a study was presented by scientists who had taken samples from a variety of public restrooms. They discovered that the amount of illness-causing bacteria located in the public restrooms was too large to even measure.

According to the website Sani-Seat, a company that makes the plastic or paper toilet covers, 60 percent of Americans say they refuse to sit down on a toilet seat in a public restroom. However, experts say that the fear of sitting on the average toilet seat is exaggerated.

Dr. Philip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology and diagnostic immunology at New York University Medical Center and Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City says that a huge portion of the bacteria that inhabit toilet seats are “fecal-borne bacteria,” which includes E. coli, a bacteria that can cause bloody diarrhea or abdominal cramps, streptococcus, a the bacteria that causes strep throat, and S. aureus, a bacteria linked to serious skin problem and pneumonia.

bathroom
“The amount of illness-causing bacteria located in the public restrooms was too large to even measure.”

However, even though these bacteria exist on the toilet seat, it doesn’t mean they’ll automatically make you sick. Your skin acts as an extremely effective barrier which keeps all those nasty germs out, unless you have an open wound on your butt.
Dr. Tierno says “If the toilet seat is dirty, don’t use it. Use common sense. In general, however, you’re unlikely to pick up anything from a toilet set.”


Germs are found in more places than just on top of a toilet seat. Lots of organisms are found on the underside of the toilet seat because it doesn’t get cleaned as often as well as the fact that when you flush you bring up the contents of the toilet. It’s not just your germs, it’s germs from other people,” says Tierno.  
According to an ABC News investigation, the places in public bathrooms with the most germs have about 2 million bacteria per square inch. They says “if you carry a purse or shoulder bag, avoid putting it down on the floor while you’re in the bathroom — hang it on the back of the door if possible.”


Dr. Tierno states that the most dangerous part of public bathrooms is picking up the germs and carrying them around with you. In order to avoid that, wash your hands with tons of soap and water after using the bathroom.

Tattoos are a sign that you’re healthy

According to the American Journal of Human Biology, a new study suggests people with more than one tattoo have better immune system responses to new tattoos than those who are getting tattooed for the first time.

The research states that the act of getting a tattoo activates the immune system in a way that can be compared to getting a vaccination, making one less susceptible to future illnesses. Although the study is small and needs some development, it does enlighten us to how the body can be trained to react to stress over time.

covered in tattoos
“The research states that the act of getting a tattoo activates the immune system.”

The study included researchers from the University of Alabama, who retrieved saliva samples from 29 different volunteers before the received tattoos and after they were given. Nine of the 29 volunteers were first-time tattoo recipients. The researchers analyzed the saliva samples for “immunoglobulin A, which is an antibody that lines the gastrointestinal and respiratory systems, and cortisol,” a stress hormone known to lower immune response.

After analyzing the data, the researchers discovered that the volunteers who had never received a tattoo had a much lower immunoglobulin A level than those who have had tattoos before. This could suggest that people who have had more experience with tattoos have an immune system that is more prepared for stress of that caliber.

“They don’t just hurt while you get the tattoo, but they can exhaust you,” Lynn, one of the lead researchers, said in the release. “It’s easier to get sick. You can catch a cold because your defenses are lowered from the stress of getting a tattoo.”

Lynn says that someone getting a tattoo for the first time is like an out-of-shape person exercising at the gym. One’s muscles are sore at first, but the pain reduces after one exercises enough.

Although there are some problems with this study, the fact that some people could simply have better immune systems than others or the fact that getting a tattoo can be dangerous if one goes to a tattoo shop which is careless with their instruments,causing infection, Lynn hopes the study can reduce the stigma that surrounds getting tattoos and hopes others won’t judge so harshly when viewing a person with tattoos.

iPhone SE: Good things can come in small packages

Image from apple.com
Apple’s latest iPhone model. Image from apple.com

On Thursday, March 31, Apple released the iPhone SE, the latest model of the smartphone that has been around since the first generation was released on June 29, 2007. iPhone SE may look like an updated iPhone 5s with the specs of an iPhone 6s, but the small phone still has a lot going for it. However, if you don’t want to switch from a large screen, you probably don’t want to switch to a four-inch phone, and are better off waiting until the estimated release date of the iPhone 7 in September 2016.

Here are the looks and the technical specifications of the new iPhone SE model, laid out in an easy-to-read format so you can see if the latest model is just what the doctor ordered. 


Design Features

Size

If you don’t want to switch from a 5s to a larger, more impractical sized, phone, the iPhone SE has the same four-inch screen that’s easy to use — you can type easily with one hand, and reach all four corners of the screen of your phone.

Color

The iPhone SE is available in four colors: silver, gold, space gray and rose gold.

The colors of the iPhone SE. Image from apple.com

Other Design Features

The new iPhone SE has a stainless steel Apple logo inset, instead of an Apple logo stamped-on the back of the phone.

The chamfered edges of the iPhone 5s have been redesigned as “refined” and are now more matte than before.

The iPhone SE features a somewhat thicker design, and doesn’t have a bump where the camera is placed.

Tech Specs

Display

The iPhone SE features a 4-inch LED-backlit Retina display with a 1136‑by‑640‑pixel resolution at 326 ppi. The contrast ratio is 800:1, the same as the iPhone 5s. However, if you’re switching from an iPhone 6s (or 6s Plus), they feature 1400:1 and 1300:1 contrast ratios, which is a big difference to take in.

Chip

The iPhone SE features an A9 chip with 64‑bit architecture, with an embedded M9 motion coprocessor. This means that the latest model has the same great performance as the iPhone 6s. The M9 motion coprocessor collects, processes, and stores sensor data, which improves functionality further.

iSight Camera

The iPhone SE iSight camera is rated at 12-megapixels with1.22µ pixels and an ƒ/2.2 aperture.

Video Recording

The new iPhone SE can shoot and edit 4k (3840 by 2160) video at 30fps. It shoots slow-motion video at 240fps (720p) and 120fps (1080p) and 1080p HD video at 30fps or 60fps, and 720p HD video recording at 30fps.

FaceTime HD Camera

The FaceTime HD Camera on the iPhone SE takes 1.2-megapixel photos, 720p HD video recording with an ƒ/2.4 aperture.

Retina Flash allows your iPhone SE screen to flash three times brighter than it normally does on models prior to the iPhone 6s. The features measures current lighting conditions, and a True Tone flash matches ambient light.

Touch ID

The iPhone SE features the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which is built into the Home button. It’s not as fast as the iPhone 6s’, however, but it’s not noticeable unless you hold either of these phones in each hand.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay allows you to use your device to pay with your iPhone SE using Touch ID in stores and within apps.

Power and Battery

The iPhone SE gets up to 14 hours of talk time on 3G, up to 13 hours on Wi-Fi and LTE of internet use, up to 13 hours of video playback, up to 50 hours of audio playback, and has a standby time of up to 10 days.

Sensors

The iPhone SE doesn’t feature 3D touch, because it’s using the same display technology as the iPhone 5s. But if you haven’t had a iPhone 6s, and even if you do, it doesn’t make that much of a difference.


The iPhone SE has an entry-level price for the 16 GB model of $399, and compared to the iPhone 6 prices from $549 and the iPhone 6s prices from $649 and up, you get enough bang for your buck without breaking the bank.

Snapchat’s new update

Snapchat released a new update, called Chat 2.0 on Tuesday March 29, unveiling 6 new features to add new practical services to the app.

This update, for me at least, wasn’t easily recognizable, except for one key feature — an auto-lay function for Stories. The auto-play function allows users to view each story back-to-back. Personally, and for some of my friends, this feature didn’t go over too well. I like to click on each video one-by-one, to view the stories I want to see, in the order I want to see them. The look of the feature isn’t preferable either, you can barely tell who the story is by because of the small header in the upper left hand corner.

However, after searching through the rest of the updates, I can faithfully say that this update has a lot more going for it. First of all, Snapchat lets people send video and audio messages, and even make voice calls — watch out Skype.

Snapchat’s new voice call feature. Graphic from http://money.cnn.com/

In addition, you can also set up a video call with multiple friends on Snapchat. They can either put on their own audio or video, or simply watch the lifestream and message to the group. Anything you film in the video call, however, can’t be saved or downloaded to your phone.

On top of the new Stories and chat features, Snapchat also revealed brand new stickers, which you can use when sending messages or chatting across the app.

 

 

Snapchat has been pressed to stay in the social media and network competition because less and less people have been spending time on the app. Getting people to use the app and keeping their attention can be hard to do, but I believe, if they keep releasing useful services through updates on their app, Snapchat can continue to grow.

However, Snapchat has a huge competitor coming close in the race. On the same day as Snapchat’s new update, Tuesday March 29, Instagram made an announcement stating that the time limit of videos uploaded to Instagram was raised from 15 seconds, to 60 seconds. Time will see if this is announcement will become an advantage for the platform.

Additionally, every single one of Snapchat’s features exist on other platforms including Facebook, Google Hangouts, Skype and WhatsApp. However, having all of these services inside one app could prove to be an advantage for keeping people on Snapchat.