E-Cigarettes: Safe Alternative, or Dangerous Gateway Drug?

Posted by on Sep 23, 2016 in Writing Assignment 1 | No Comments

E-cigarettes have increased in popularity in the last 5 years, and many people are unsure about whether they are safe to use. Recent studies show that e-cigarettes pollute the air with dangerous chemicals, and that their use has sparked greater likelihoods of poisoning and tobacco use. However, there is also some evidence that supports the claim that e-cigarettes can act as a good substitute for traditional tobacco cigarettes, and even that e-cigarettes emit far fewer pollutants than traditional tobacco cigarettes do.

For example, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine provides very strong evidence that e-cigarettes produce dangerous compounds. The study found that at the high voltages (5.0 V) at which e-cigarettes can function,

“a mean (±SE) of 380±90 μg per sample (10 puffs) of formaldehyde was detected as formaldehyde-releasing agents … [and] an e-cigarette user vaping at a rate of 3 ml per day would inhale 14.4±3.3 mg of formaldehyde per day in formaldehyde-releasing agents” (Jensen et al., 2015).

In comparison, conventional cigarettes only deliver about 3 mg of formaldehyde for every pack of 20 cigarettes. Therefore, a conventional cigarette smoker would have to smoke approximately 100 cigarettes to inhale as much formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing agents as an e-cigarette smoker would with just 3 ml of e-liquid, which is the average amount that an e-cigarette smoker uses in a day.

Research conducted by R.E. Bunnell et al. studied middle and high school students’ likelihood to smoke traditional tobacco cigarettes and its correlation to whether they had ever vaped e-cigarettes before. The study showed that “intention to smoke conventional cigarettes was 43.9% among ever e-cigarette users and 21.5% among never users” (Bunnell et al., 2014). Therefore, there is a great social impact being made by e-cigarettes, and its widespread use is shown to lead many young people to use traditional tobacco cigarettes, therefore deeming e-cigarettes as more of a gateway drug than a safe alternative.

In an article published on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, researchers collected date involving calls made to the CDC involving exposure to traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes. In their research, they found that “E-cigarettes accounted for an increasing proportion of combined monthly e-cigarette and cigarette exposure calls, increasing from 0.3% in September 2010 to 41.7% in February 2014” (Chatham-Stephens et al., 2014).

It is clear that the number of calls due to e-cigarette exposure have increased exponentially in recent years.

It is clear that the number of calls due to e-cigarette exposure have increased exponentially in recent years.

Of course, this increase can be attributed in part to the increase in widespread e-cigarette use, and therefore increase in probability that inept people could hurt or poison themselves. However, “Cigarette exposures were primarily among persons aged 0–5 years (94.9%), whereas e-cigarette exposures were mostly among persons aged 0–5 years (51.1%) and >20 years (42.0%)” (Chatham-Stephens et al., 2014), which proves that regardless of age and cognitive ability, everyone is susceptible to the dangers that e-cigarettes pose.

Despite evidence provided by various sources and researchers, some people feel that e-cigarettes are a harmless hobby. And there is some evidence that suggests that this argument about e-cigarettes is true. For example, a study conducted by T.R. McAuley et al. involved collecting data and comparing amounts of harmful compounds like VOCs, carbonyls and glycols emitted when e-cigarettes were vaporized in a room versus when tradition cigarettes were vaporized in the same room. The results concluded that e-cigarettes produced far fewer harmful emissions than traditional cigarettes did, hence showing that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes (McAuley et al., 2012).

Furthermore, a study conducted by J. Brown et al. for the Society for the Study of Addiction tested people’s likelihood of quitting when using e-cigarettes as a crutch, using nicotine replacement therapy, and using no aid. Their research concluded that “the adjusted odds of non-smoking in users of e-cigarettes were 1.58 (95% CI = 1.13–2.21) times higher compared with users of NRT bought over-the-counter and 1.55 (95% CI = 1.14–2.11) times higher compared with those using no aid” (J. Brown et al., 2014). This proves that e-cigarettes can function well as a traditional cigarette replacement, and can even help those struggling to quit to finally do so.

I feel that the sources that I have researched provide a solid array of information to help guide my video. I am on the fence about my goal of the video, however after doing research I am leaning toward presenting both sides of the argument about e-cigarettes and allowing the viewer to make their own decision based on the evidence and analysis that they take away from the video.


Brown, J., Beard, E., Kotz, D., Michie, S., West., R. Real-world effectiveness of e-cigarettes when used to aid smoking cessation: a cross-sectional population study. Society for the Study of Addiction. Vol 109, p 1531-1540. 2014.

Bunnell, R., Agaku, I., Apelberg, B., Caraballo, R., King, B., Arrazola, R., … Dube, S. Intentions to smoke cigarettes among never-smoking U.S. middle and high school electronic cigarette users, National Youth Tobacco Survey, 2011-2013. Oxford University Press Nicotine and Tobacco Research. Vol 18. 2014.

Chatham-Stephens, K., Law, R., Taylor, E., Melstrom, P., Bunnell, R., Wang, B., … Schier, J.G. CDC Grand Rounds: Global Tobacco Control. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vol 63, p 277-297. 2014.

Jensen, R.P., Luo, W., Pankow, J.F., Strongin, R.M., Peyton, D.H. Hidden Formaldehyde in E-Cigarette Aerosols. New England Journal of Medicine. Vol 372, p 392-394. 2015.

McAuley, T.R., Hopke, P.K., Zhao, J., Babaian, S. Comparison of the effects of e-cigarette vapor and cigarette smoke on indoor air quality. Inhalation Toxicology. Vol 24, p 850-857. 2012.

How Digital Media is Taking Over Print Journalism in 140 Characters

Posted by on Sep 17, 2016 in Writing Assignment 1 | No Comments


The technological boom of the past decade has restructured the foundation of how American society communicates. In particular, the machine of mass media has evolved from that of printed copy distributed weekly across the nation to a digitized, online platform where information can be searched, shared, and saved within the click of a button. This new age renaissance has forced traditional media companies to re-evaluate long-held concepts of lucrative business practices and amend them to align with a tech-savvy generation.

The New York Times, one of the most well-established print publications and one that has survived the arrival of the technological coming, has experienced the side effects of maintaining an outdated medium, “And therein lies a problem that has no easy solution: how to fully transform for the digital future when the business model – and the DNA of the newsroom – is so tied to the printed newspaper” (Sullivan).  This is the primary anchor to the progression of print publication: the linear model of communication between the writer and the reader is no longer the norm and has been replaced by a multi-dimensional network of two-way interactions (Abramson, 39). Moreover, digital media is now regarded as the only way forward, due to its emphasis on storytelling as a catalyst for conversation and the accessibility it provides to not only media professionals, but everyday individuals as well (Coleman, 488).

Figure 1. Print-to-digital magazine reader turnover.

Figure 1. Print-to-digital magazine reader turnover.

Nevertheless, the Times has still managed to keep up with the ever-changing climate of content creation through establishing a digital platform as a supplement to their print publication. This method of convergence is the safety net that traditional media requires in order to stay relevant in a digital-oriented world (Marchese, 434). Merging written word with an online platform also allows for a stronger connection between audience and content through means of interactive storytelling. In order for linear-based media (i.e. newspapers, magazines, books, etc.) to remain afloat in a content-saturated market, companies must remember the fundamental principle of media: connectivity (Mamber, 121). Reading articles online and catching up on breaking news through the web has become the standard for accessing information because of its simplicity. The immediacy of the Internet and the fluidity between search and receive means that people stay more connected with world around them and the people that inhabit it (Emmott, 78). As long as publications like The New York Times and TIME are able to keep people connected, then the future of print publication remains alive.


Works Cited:

  1. Abramson, Jill. “Sustaining Quality Journalism.” Daedalus 2 (2010): 39-44. Web.
  2. Coleman, E. Gabriella. “Ethnographic Approaches to Digital Media.” Annual Review of Anthropology 39 (2010): 487-505. Web.
  3. Emmott, Bill, and Kramer Gina. “INTERVIEW: All That’s Fit to Print: Journalism in a Globalized World.”Harvard International Review 2 (2001): 76-79. Web.
  4. Mamber, Stephen. “Teaching Digital Media.” Cinema Journal 3 (1997): 117-22. Web.
  5. Marchese, Suzanne M., and Marchese Francis T. “Digital Media and Ephemeralness: Art, Artist, and Viewer.” Leonardo 5 (1995): 433-35. Web.
  6. Sullivan, Megan. “A Paper Boat Navigating a Digital Sea.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 14 June 2014. Web. 12 Sept. 2016.




“World with no traffic fatalities” – possible reality or a fairy tale title? “Vision Zero is working, ” says de Blasio.

Posted by on Sep 17, 2016 in Writing Assignment 1 | No Comments

The number of vehicles on roads is constantly increasing, which means that there is always need for changes in traffic laws to ensure safety and mobility. However, the capacity for change is limited if the behavior of traffic units is modified within an unchanged medium. The world needs to reach the perfect harmony between street design and motion within the streets, and that is why the multi-national “Vision Zero” project was adopted.

Vision Zero is a multi-national project that is aimed at eliminating traffic fatalities or injuries. It was first approved in Sweden in 1997.  The main ethical principle of the project is that human life is the paramount concern of the road traffic system and takes priority over convenience and mobility. Deaths caused by traffic are preventable, and, therefore, none are acceptable. Vision Zero was brought into New York City by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2014.

One of the key components of New York City’s Vision Zero efforts is the reduction of city speed limit from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour. Furthermore, NYPD enforcement was increased to discourage signal violations, speeding, failure to yield, improper turns, and texting or using cell phone while driving (Gelinas, 2014). Even though these violations are causing a significant number of accidents, most of pedestrian deaths appear to be failures of street design (White, 2016).

At locations with major engineering changes in NYC, fatalities are down by about 34% (NYC DOT, 2015). About 63% of all injury crashes were eliminated at Jackson Avenue (11th street to the Pulaski Bridge) in Long Island City, Queens. This is due to new high visibility crosswalks, reduced crossing distances, turn restrictions, and clearer lane designations (NYC DOT). The diagrams below show the intersection before and after the changes were made.

 Figure 1: Jackson Avenue intersection before "Vision Zero" changes were made Source: NYC DOT

Figure 1: Jackson Avenue intersection before “Vision Zero” changes were made
                             Source: NYC DOT


Figure 2: Jackson Avenue intersection transformed by "Vision Zero" Source: NYC DOT

Figure 2: Jackson Avenue intersection transformed by “Vision Zero”
                                                                     Source: NYC DOT

Another example is the redesigned road in the Bronx, which demonstrates the use of so-called “pedestrian safety islands,” which shorten the crossing distance. The changes lowered the amount of crashes with injuries by 41% (NYC DOT).

Figure 3: Macombs Road, the Bronx - before "Vision Zero" changes were made Source: NYC DOT

Figure 3: Macombs Road, the Bronx – before “Vision Zero” changes were made
                                  Source: NYC DOT


Figure 4: Macombs Road transformed by "Vision Zero" Source: NYC DOT

Figure 4: Macombs Road transformed by “Vision Zero”
Source: NYC DOT

Finally, the redesigned streets of Manhattan demonstrate the use of bus lanes and the use of parking spots to protect and separate the bicyclists from the cars (NYC DOT).

Figure 5: First and Second Avenues in Manhattan before "Vision Zero" changes were made Source: NYC DOT

Figure 5: First and Second Avenues in Manhattan before “Vision Zero” changes were made
                                                 Source: NYC DOT


Figure 6: First and Second Avenues in Manhattan transformed by "Vision Zero" Source: NYC DOT

Figure 6: First and Second Avenues in Manhattan transformed by “Vision Zero”
                                                                      Source: NYC DOT

According to the Department of Transportation, pedestrian deaths in NYC fell to a historic low in 2014, the year when “Vision Zero” project was adopted. This is the lowest number since 1910.


Even though law enforcement by NYPD was significantly increased with 117,719 speeding tickets and 18,723 “failure to yield” summonses issued in 2014, the “zero” goal seems unreachable to the majority of NYC’s population (Tangel, 2016). Cars and other vehicles are still the leading cause of injury-related death for kids under 14 and seniors (Stuart,  2014). Raymond Walter Kelly, the longest serving Commissioner of the NYPD, shares the viewpoint of impossibility of getting to zero: “We do have 8.4 million people here. We do have a daytime population that’s over 10 million people, so you’re going to have a lot of traffic. And you’re going to have accidents (Stuart, 2014).”

Only time and effort can tell us whether traffic deaths can be eliminated. Work towards safer neighborhoods is a process that is still far from complete. All of us have to get involved. Convenience and mobility will never be more important than human lives; therefore, it is in our best interest to forget about “the times when we could drive faster in the city” and to participate in the process at least within our neighborhoods. We can make fewer people turn into statistics.



Works Cited

Gelinas, Nicole. “New York’s Next Public Safety Revolution.” City Journal. CJ, Spring 2014.

NYC DOT. “Street Design and Regulation.” – Vision Zero. DOT, 5 Jan. 2015.

Stuart, Tessa. “It’s Too Easy to Kill Pedestrians in New York City.” Village Voice. Village Voice, 5 Feb. 2014.

Tangel, Andrew. “Traffic Ruling Could Cloud De Blasio’s ‘Vision Zero’ Push.” The Wall Street Journal. Wsj.com, 1 July 2016.

White, Paul. “Vision Zero Cities.” International Journal of Traffic Safety Innovation. 1 (2016): 14,46,56+.


Connections Between Art and Mathematics Through Education and Aesthetics

Posted by on Sep 17, 2016 in Writing Assignment 1 | No Comments

On the surface, the fields of mathematics and the arts do not seem likely to fit well together.   The former is known more for its logical composition, and the latter for aesthetics and design.  However, this is not always the case.  More and more, many people are coming to realize the connections that can be drawn from one subject to the next.  Some schools are becoming more focused on STEAM education, which attempts to blend more technical fields like science, math, and technology to the realm of the arts for a more complete learning experience.  Even so, this is not the first instance of art and math coming together, as artists and mathematicians alike have dedicated themselves to this union between subjects.

Many schools have converted from STEM education to STEAM.  STEM education is primarily focused on science, technology, engineering, and math, and was used to remedy low performances of youth in these fields.  However, this type of teaching practice was seemingly unbalanced, which ultimately lacked in teaching the arts and humanities.  Therefore, the implementation of the arts into these programs became known as STEAM education.  The use of STEAM education was to improve creativity of students to problem solving skills.  This creative approach in modern education is highly valued, giving children a more rounded education.  The STEM education system tended to implement ideas that art and science do not mix, that “art is illogical and science is not creative” (Ko et al.).  This new education system benefitted the students, which resulted in more student achievement in respected areas, along with more creative solutions with regards to real world problem solving.  Through this blend of STEM fields and arts, it is clear how they tend to help each other.  Mathematics and the arts go hand in hand with one another, as proven by this more enriched learning experience.

Outside of the realm of education, math and art have also made significant progress when used together.  Computer generated fractals are heavily based within mathematics.  These images contain roots that branch off and reach into infinity, that create an aesthetic that bridges the fields of art and math.  These fractal images range from a smooth look to one that is more intricate.  A study found that those that closer to the smoother end of the spectrum generally had more aesthetic appeal (Spehar, et al. 813).  Furthermore, fractals can be used to analyze works of art, such as analyzing the fractal density present in some of Jackson Pollock’s works (816).  Artwork can be analyzed in this way by finding varying fractal dimensions, or varying intricacy, throughout the piece and then conducting a study that ranks what dimensions are seen to be the most aesthetically appealing.  Some artists are even known for their extensively math based works.  One example of this is MC Escher.  His study of tiling and regular divisions of a plane was unknowingly a form of mathematical research, which he then used to turn into an art form.  Much of his work is grounded within mathematical structure and geometry, all of which helped promote his credentials as an artist.


Fig. 1: A transition process by Escher, transforming the 2-colored tiling into another by an intermediate step (Schattschneider).

Many more examples of math and art coming together exist. However, the fact remains that these two subjects are not something completely apart from one another.  The use of one field into the next is something that should be promoted within the education system, as STEAM is currently trying to do.  The notion that math and art are oil and vinegar is one that should be we should seek to end, as the benefits of having them mix clearly should not be passed up.


Works Cited:

Ko, Yeonghae, Jaeho An, and Namje Park. “Development of Computer, Math, Art Convergence Education Lesson Plans Based on Smart Grid Technology.” Communications in Computer and Information Science Computer Applications for Security, Control and System Engineering (2012): 109-14. Web


La Haye, Roberta, and Irene Naested. “Mutual Interrogation: A Celebration Of Alternate Perspectives For Visual Art And Math Curriculum.” Canadian Review Of Art Education: Research & Issues 41.2 (2014): 185-201. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Sept. 2016.


Quigley, Cassie, and Dani Herro. “‘Finding The Joy In The Unknown’: Implementation Of STEAM Teaching Practices In Middle School Science And Math Classrooms.” Journal Of Science Education & Technology 25.3 (2016): 410-426. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Sept. 2016.


Schattschneider, Doris. “The mathematical side of MC Escher.” Notices of the AMS 57.6 (2010): 706-718.


Spehar, Branka, et al. “Universal aesthetic of fractals.” Computers & Graphics 27.5 (2003): 813-820.


E-learning: A Revolution in The Way We Learn

Posted by on Sep 17, 2016 in Writing Assignment 1 | No Comments

The internet is a giant library of information. Whether it be for news, research, or entertainment, the internet has almost everything anyone would ever need. One of these things is education. E-learning is short for electronically learning. It means learning by means of electronic devices, such as the Internet. E-learning is a widely controversial topic. Those who argue for it will tell you it provides consistent worldwide training, increases learner convenience, as well as the use of different types of multimedia. A learner can learn at his own pace, focus on lessons he/she needs rather than the “one-size-fits-all” we see by instructors, and attend lectures miles away in real time (Clark, 2016). Those who argue against it will tell you the up-front cost is impractical as investments in information technology, staff, the courses themselves, as well as hardware and software are too high. In addition, the lack of peer-to-peer networking in e-learning arises another issue that includes the social networking we see in physical schooling today (Welsh, 2003).

A study was conducted at Konkuk University’s Seoul Campus of South Korea. With a population sample size of 6,953 students who participated in at least one e-learning course, 628 decided to participate in this questionnaire (Park, 2009). The results are shown below:



Figure 1: Results of an e-learning questionnaire answered by 628 South Korean University students

As shown above, a majority of students agree that e-learning is easy to use and e-learning has an overall positive effect on their academic careers.

But this also raises the question of: how subjective are these students in questionnaires? Studies vary heavily, where some find e-learning to be more effective while others find classroom instruction to be more effective. Results can highly vary according to the effectiveness of the teacher and the student’s preferred method of learning. Studies show that method of delivery has little impact to student performance, but rather it is the learning environment, how accessible the instructor is, feedback, etc, that really matter (Bell, 2013).

E-learning is a revolution in the way we learn. Today’s demographic of students consumes more content than ever, taking in information from multiple sources at an almost instantaneous speed (Downes, 2005).  Active learning is essential where students need to be actively engaged with the key roles of communication, participation, and consumption (Downes, 2005). Whether e-learning can accomplish this method in the same, if not better, way than today’s method of classroom teaching remains to be unraveled in the future.


Bell, B., & Federman, J. (2013). E-Learning in Postsecondary Education. The Future of Children, 23(1), 165-185.

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2016). E-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Downes, S. (2005, October 16). E-Learning 2.0. ELearn Magazine. Retrieved September 12, 2016.

Sung Youl Park. (2009). An Analysis of the Technology Acceptance Model in Understanding University Students’ Behavioral Intention to Use e-Learning. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 12(3), 150-162.

Welsh, E. T., Wanberg, C. R., Brown, K. G. and Simmering, M. J. (2003), E-learning: emerging uses, empirical results and future directions. International Journal of Training and Development, 7: 245–258. doi:10.1046/j.1360-3736.2003.00184.x

Advanced Pillows Improve Poor Sleeping Quality and Health

Posted by on Sep 17, 2016 in Writing Assignment 1 | No Comments

Clinical scientists and doctors have always been studying and trying to improve the conditions of many sleeping problems such as headache, back pain, and shoulder pain. A report from 1954 indicates that stiff neck could result from a sudden sharp turn of the head, cold draft, or more commonly, an uncomfortable sleeping position. Though it seldom prevents the patient from working, but the sensation of stiffness and pain from the back of the neck is often bothering and also limits the victim from flexibly twisting his head. The symptom could stay for days and weeks or sometimes disappear in just a few hours (Hult, 1954). Thirty-four years later, Gustave R. Rinz filed a patent for his invention of the orthopedic pillow, a pillow case that can be inserted to a conventional pillow to prevent and relief morning headache, tension, back pain, and stiff neck (Rinz, 1988).

Recent studies have further shown that one’s sleeping condition is important to health. Sheldon Cohen, a psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and his research group discovered that poorer sleep or shorter sleep duration is associated with lower resistance to illness. Sleep deprivation can reduce natural killer cell activity and increase circulations of proinflammatory particles in the body, which weakens the immune system and increases the risk of developing verifiable illnesses. In addition, Cohen found that poor sleeping quality also reduces antibody responses to both influenza immunization and hepatitis A (Cohen et al., 2009).

Current technology has made the pillow into a more convenient treatment for many sleeping problems. There are many different types of pillows designed according to individual sleeping habits. For example, stomach sleepers need a soft and fairly flat pillow, and back sleepers need a medium thick pillow. Classic pillows are the standard pillows that have no contour and are designed for sleeping both on the back and the stomach. These pillows aim to support your head and neck by alleviating your upper back. A more advanced form of pillows is contour pillows, also known as cervical pillows, which have curved surfaces and are usually made from memory foam, gel or latex. The contours provide support for the neck and also make comfortable cervical spine position. Contour pillows can help to alleviate medical conditions such as migraines, snoring, insomnia, and shoulder pain.

A recent study focused on the SONA inclined pillow, which is a triangular pillow that has space to place the arm under the head while sleeping on the side. The SONA inclined pillow was discovered to have the ability to improve sleeping conditions. This pillow can moderate or even completely stop snoring and obstructive sleep apneas. People’s health conditions can be improved by having undisturbed sleep (Zuberi et al., 2004).



Figure 1. SONA Inclined Pillow; Figure taken from Zuberi, 2004.


Moreover, technology has allowed pillows to obtain cooling properties. Gel pillows are made from polyurethane or silicone materials and aim to benefit the sleeper’s body temperature regulation. There are many benefits to sleeping at cooler temperatures. According to a published study, colder sleeping temperatures lower the risk of diabetes and metabolic diseases by providing several metabolic advantages such as doubling the amount of good fat in the subject’s body (Lee et al., 2014).

Poor sleeping quality and short sleeping duration can deteriorate one’s health.  Current technology has turned pillows into solutions to the problem. The methods to improve sleeping quality and health through advanced forms of pillows are still in progress, and scientists are working to reach this milestone.



  1. Zuberi, N.A., Rekab, K. and Nguyen, H.V. Sleep Breath (2004) 8: 201. doi:10.1007/s11325-004-0201-5
  2. Lee, P., Smith, S., Linderman, J., Courville, A.B., Brychta, R.J., Dieckmann, W., Werner, C.D., Chen, K.Y., and Celi, F.S. (2004) Temperature-Acclimated Brown Adipose Tissue Modulates Insulin Sensitivity in Humans,Diabetes2014 63(11), 3686–3698.
  3. Cohen S., Doyle W.J., Alper C.M., Janicki-Deverts D., and Turner R.B. (2009) Sleep Habits and Susceptibility to the Common Cold. Arch Intern Med. 169(1):62-67. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2008.505.
  4. Hult L. (1954) The Munkfors Investigation: A Study of the Frequency and Causes of the Stiff Neck-Brachialgia and Lumbago-Sciatica Syndromes, as Well as Observations on Certain Signs and Symptoms from the Dorsal Spine and the Joints of the Extremities in Industrial and Forest Workers, Acta Orthopaedica Scandinavica, 25:sup16, 3-76. DOI: 10.3109/ort.1954.25.suppl-16.01
  5. Rinz, G.R. (1988) Pillowcase and Insert for Converting Conventional Pillow Into An Orthopedic Pillow. United States Patent.

The Origins of The Elements From The Basis of Chemical Reactions In Massive Stars In Deep Space

Posted by on Sep 17, 2016 in Writing Assignment 1 | No Comments

All of the elements on the Periodic Table have some origin. From the smallest and most basic of elements to the biggest ones, that were created naturally, they all seem to have a similar origin. The most basic elements, hydrogen and helium, have supposedly arisen from the Big Bang. Primarily hydrogen was brought about by the Big Bang initially. Supposedly there is “enough cool, neutral gas to form all the starts visible today” and the “decrease of gas content… reflects the conversion of gas into stars” (Pei et al., 1999). After the other remnants in the vastness of space would condense, which included mostly gases, and eventually heat up, the masses would eventually form stars. In them, “the first thermonuclear reactions to take place are those that convert deuterium, lithium, beryllium, and boron into helium” (Cameron, 1957).

The nuclear reaction goes on in even our sun, where hydrogen is used in a nuclear reaction to create helium, and nuclear reactions such as these are continuous throughout the universe, with smaller elements becoming the fuel for bigger elements through these nuclear reactions. “In this sequence an intermediate-mass star evolves from an oxygen-rich to a carbon-rich (C) star. This evolution is explained as the result of a series of nucleosynthetic and mixing event, which alter the C/O ratio from the values typical of the first giant branch stars to the enhancements found in C stars” (Abia & Wallerstein, 1997). Essentially, bigger elements are created by the fusion reactions of smaller elements and the conditions that allow for these reactions happen within stars.

While stars create bigger and bigger elements, they eventually run out of ‘fuel’ to allow for the reactions and eventually explode, scattering their vast atomic contents across the universe. Stars are able to continue this process for only so long before exploding and so the question of even bigger elements comes into mind. Humanity hasn’t found certain elements yet as they have been too big, but some have been created here on the Earth, “man has been able to produce artificially the neutron, technetium, promethium, and ten transuranic elements” (Burbidge et al., 1957). The creation of these elements has posed much danger as such extreme conditions are required to make them. With something going wrong, “there is no question that this type of action would serve to contaminate a considerable area to a dangerous degree” (Hamilton, 1949). Consequently there haven’t been too many man-made elements as it is dangerous, but more possibilities are being discovered.



Figure 1. - Mean Metallicity of Interstellar gas in galaxies in units of the solar value and comoving density of heavy elements in galaxies.

Figure 1. – Mean Metallicity of Interstellar gas in galaxies in units of the solar value and comoving density of heavy elements in galaxies. (Pei, et al., 1999)


Works Cited

Abia, C. “Heavy-element Abundances in Seven SC Stars and Several Related Stars.”          Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 293.1 (1998): 89-106.

Burbidge, E. Margaret, G. Burbidge R., William Fowler A., and F. Hoyle. “Synthesis of    The Elements In Stars.Reviews of Modern Physics 29.4 (1957): 548-51.

Cameron, A. G. W. “NUCLEAR REACTIONS IN STARS AND NUCLEOGENESIS.”   Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 69.408 (1957): 201-22.

Hamilton, Joseph G. “The Metabolism of the Radioactive Elements Created by Nuclear    Fission — NEJM.The New England Journal of Medicine 22nd ser. 240 (1949):       n. pag.             The New England Journal of Medicine.

Pei, Yichuan C., S. Fall Michael, and Michael Hauser G. “Cosmic Histories of Stars, Gas,Heavy Elements, and Dust in Galaxies.The Astrophysical Journal 522.2 (1999):       n. pag. IOPSciecnce.

Cultivation of Big Data and Crowdsourcing Software Development

Posted by on Sep 16, 2016 in Writing Assignment 1 | No Comments

Yelp has been one of the most successful crowdsourcing websites ever since its start in 2004 more than a decade ago. Besides having a social media aspect, it is granted that there is a lot of data science involved given the countless businesses and reviews that are posted on Yelp. It’s most successful feat was utilizing Computer Science to create a product that not only attracts many users to build a large and sustainable community base, but also involves up-to-date algorithms to upkeep the system. Reviews are invaluable to a business – statistics show that higher star ratings are correlated with higher revenue. Findings show that an increase in one star can lead to a 5-9 percent increase in revenue for the business. (Luca 2016) Therefore, businesses will have incentive to create fake reviews. Yelp attempts to counteract this by implementing a filter to detect fake reviews. (Kamerer 2014) To do so, machine learning algorithms are used in order to distinguish legitimate reviews from fake reviews. (Mukherjee, et al.) Furthermore, text data mining is necessary in order to utilize these algorithms to produce data. (Mukherjee, et al.) Interestingly enough, to expand the possibility for innovation that will drive the website way into the future, Yelp consistently hosts challenges that will allow scientists to download parts of legitimate data sets from Yelp for the purpose of creating a new way to use it.

Figure 1: Word cloud for restaurant reviews (Kamerer)

Figure 1: Word cloud for restaurant reviews (Kamerer)

The data sets consist of a stockpile of information including a user database, business database, review database. There are 366715 users, 61184 businesses, and 1569264 reviews available from the Yelp data set. (Yu, et al.) Each of these files are stored in JSON, JavaScript Object Notation. This is a format that describes an object through attributes. In the case of the data sets, these objects could be users, businesses, and reviews. There are countless possibilities for things that could be done with these large data sets. For example, we could create different types of algorithms that would predict a business’ star rating just by the content of the reviews. (Yu, et. al) Furthermore, you could also extract text from reviews for latent subtopics that could potentially help businesses improve their services by observing a “hidden” demand. (Huang, et. al 2014)

As media evolves, companies that rely on technology need to stay on the forefront in order to maintain a status in the online world. In keeping technologically updated, recruiting computer scientists and engineers in their endeavor to constantly keep their website/software updated is a popular tactic used by many other companies, such as Google. Many of these big name companies host Code Challenges that allow them to gather ideas as well as recruit valuable members in the future. In this context, Computer Scientists can be imagined as working in a lab to rapidly create new ways of using changing technology.



Works Cited

Fan, Mingming, and Maryam Khademi. “Predicting a Business Star in Yelp from Its Reviews

Text Alone.” ArXiv Preprint ArXiv:1401.0864 (2014): n. pag. [1401.0864] Predicting a Business Star in Yelp from Its Reviews Text Alone. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.

Huang, J.; Rogers, S.; Joo, E. (2014). Improving Restaurants by Extracting Subtopics from Yelp

Reviews. In iConference 2014 (Social Media Expo)

Kamerer, David. “Understanding the Yelp review filter: An exploratory study.” First

Monday [Online], 19.9 (2014): n. pag. Web. 12 Sep. 2016

Luca, Michael. “Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of Yelp.com.” Harvard Business

School Working Paper, No. 12-016, September 2011. (Revised March 2016. Revise and resubmit at the American Economic Journal – Applied Economics.)

Mukherjee, Arjun, Venkataraman, Vivek, Liu, Bing, AND Glance, Natalie. “What Yelp Fake

Review Filter Might Be Doing?” International AAAI Conference on Web and Social

Media (2013): n. pag. Web. 12 Sep. 2016

Yu, Mengqi, Meng Xue, and Wenjia Ouyang. “Restaurants Review Star Prediction for Yelp




cs is cool ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Need for Clinical Intervention to Improve Communication in Head and Neck Cancer Survivors

Posted by on Sep 16, 2016 in Writing Assignment 1 | No Comments

Figure 1. Shows disfigurement after HNC treatment (Park)

Head and neck cancer (HNC) accounts for approximately 3% of cancers in the U.S. The American Cancer Society estimates over 60,000 new HNC cancer cases in the U.S. in 2016, and roughly 500,000 HNC survivors. Although deemed “cancer free,” these survivors must still cope with the physical and psychological consequences of treatment. A study conducted in 2011 interviewed the caregivers of 39 HNC patients on the topic of “Reading the Patient.” This qualitative study showed some common methods of communicating with the patient including “Giving Voice,” “Being There,” “Giving Control,” “Saving Face,” “Normalizing,” “Relieving Pain,” and “Giving Hope.” This study suggests that HNC patients need access to technology and care that eases nonverbal communication and helps them overcome issues such as disfigurement and body image. (McGrory) In a 2015 qualitative study, 14 HNC survivors were interviewed regarding communication changes after their HNC treatment. The responses fell into four different categories: “impairments in communication sub-systems,” “the challenges of communicating in everyday life,” “broad ranging effects of communication changes,” and “adaptations as a result of communication changes.” It was concluded that psychosocial side effects of treatment need to be accounted for when caring for a HNC patient. (Nund)
Some studies have also shown that HNC can result in both constructive and destructive consequences in terms of effective communication. In one instance, a 2012 interview study conducted on a sample of n=39 HNC survivors revealed that there were both positive (“going deeper into life”) and negative (“change in communication”) aspects of survivorship. In addition to causing functional deficits, HNC forces people to consider larger and deeper aspects of life as a result of difficult circumstances. (Fletcher) Research has shown that there are negative psychosocial and physical side effects of HNC treatment that clinicians must consider when coming up with a recovery plan.



Dooks, P., McQuestion, M., Goldstein, D., & Molassiotis, A. (2012). Experiences of patients with laryngectomies as they reintegrate into their community. Supportive Care in Cancer, 20(3), 489-498.

Fletcher, B. S., Cohen, M. Z., Schumacher, K., & Lydiatt, W. (2012). A blessing and a curse: head and neck cancer survivors’ experiences. Cancer nursing, 35(2), 126-132.

McGrory, A. (2010). Communicating with head and neck cancer patients.ORL-head and neck nursing: official journal of the Society of Otorhinolaryngology and Head-Neck Nurses, 29(3), 7-11.

Nund, R. L., Rumbach, A. F., Debattista, B. C., Goodrow, M. N., Johnson, K. A., Tupling, L. N., … & Porceddu, S. V. (2015). Communication changes following non-glottic head and neck cancer management: The perspectives of survivors and carers. International journal of speech-language pathology,17(3), 263-272.

O’Brien, K., Roe, B., Low, C., Deyn, L., & Rogers, S. N. (2012). An exploration of the perceived changes in intimacy of patients’ relationships following head and neck cancer. Journal of clinical nursing, 21(17‐18), 2499-2508.

Park, M. (2010). Oral cancer’s toll cruel. Retrieved September 12, 2016, from


So, W. K., Choi, K. C., Chen, J. M., Chan, C. W., Fung, O. W., Wan, R. W., … & Bernice, W. L. (2014). Quality of life in head and neck cancer survivors at 1 year after treatment: the mediating role of unmet supportive care needs.Supportive Care in Cancer, 22(11), 2917-2926.

Cyberknife: Robotic Radiosurgery Shows Promise for Accurately Targeting and Treating Cancerous Lesions

Posted by on Sep 16, 2016 in Writing Assignment 1 | No Comments

Ariana Gopal

Cyberknife: Robotic Radiosurgery Shows Promise for Accurately Targeting and Treating Cancerous Lesions

              Cyberknife is a form of robotic radiosurgery that is geared toward precisely targeting cancerous masses in the body.  Paired with real-time imaging, the radiosurgery is delivered from an adjustable robotic arm that points a high dose linear beam of radiation to a target site (Shinohara, 2016).  Before the radiation therapy is applied to the target site, an individualized treatment plan must be created.  First, an imagining technique such as an MRI is evaluated to determine how much radiation therapy can be handled by the specific cancer site (Chang et al., 1998). After this is established, the three dimensional geometry of the cancer lesion can be devised and used by the Cyberknife system to determine the optimum beam dosage for the cancer site, and ultimately provide the safest and most efficient treatment for the patient (Chang et al., 1998).

Past research on the Cyberknife has shown promise in its ability to successfully target cancerous lesions.  For example, a research study conducted in 2004 indicated that the Cyberknife was capable of delivering treatment at an average positional error of 0.2-0.4 mm to spinal cancer sites, indicative of how precise this radiosurgery system can be (Yu et al., 2004).  A 1998 study evaluated the efficiency of Cyberknife radiosurgery for 72 patients with cancerous tumors in the intracranial region (Yu et al., 1998).  After 9 months post-treatment, 32% of patients reported no visible tumors, 63% tumor shrinkage, and 5% tumor enlargement (Chang et al., 1998).   Additionally, research using the Cyberknife system on spinal lesions showed spinal pain improvement in over 90% of patients with no reported neurological deficits or radiation toxicity post treatment (Gerszten et al., 2004).  This study also shed light on the outpatient nature and speedy recovery time associated with Cyberknife surgery.

Since these studies were conducted, the Cyberknife has been modified to reduce treatment duration and new algorithms have been programmed to improve the system’s calculation of radiation dosage (Dieterich & Gibbs, 2011).  However, as clearly exemplified in the research above, Cyberknife procedures have predominantly been conducted on patients with cancerous lesions directly effecting aspects of their nervous system.  Additional literature can be reviewed to determine what other types of cancerous tissues have been targeted using the Cyberknife system, such as the lung and the prostate.  It would also be helpful to compare the impact of Cyberknife to other cancer treatment methods, such as traditional radiation therapy and surgery.  Nevertheless, as deduced from this current review, the Cyberknife does show promise in terms of safety, accuracy, and effectively treating cancerous lesions of the brain and spine.


Figure 1: The Preliminary Design of the Cyberknife System (Chang et al., 1998)



Chang, S. D., Murphy, M., Geis, P., Martin, D. P., Hancock, S. L., Doty, J. R., & Adler, J. J.  (1998). Clinical Experience with Image-guided Robotic Radiosurgery (the Cyberknife) in the Treatment of Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors. Neurologia Medico-chirurgica Neurol. Med. Chir.(Tokyo), 38(11), 780-783.

Dieterich, S., & Gibbs, I. C. (2011). The CyberKnife in Clinical Use: Current Roles, Future Expectations [Abstract]. IMRT, IGRT, SBRT Frontiers of Radiation Therapy and Oncology, 181 -194.

Gerszten, P., Ozhasoglu, C., Burton, S., Vogel, W., Atkins, B., Kalnicki, S., & Welch, W. (2004). Cyberknife Frameless Stereotactic Radiosurgery for the Treatment of Spinal Lesions: Clinical Experience in 125 Cases [Abstract]. Neurosurgery, 55(1).

Shinohara, E. (2016). Radiation Therapy: Which Type is Right for Me?

Yu, C., Main, W., Taylor, D., Kuduvalli, G., Apuzzo, M. L., Adler, J. R., & Wang, M. Y. (2004).  An Anthropomorphic Phantom Study of the Accuracy of CyberKnife Spinal Radiosurgery [Abstract]. Neurosurgery, 55(5), 1138-1149.