Hi, Science Issue II (Winter 2023)

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Hi, Science.


The scientific mind, first and foremost, is one of curiosity.

Hi, Science.

Winter 2023

© Hi, Science, 2023 i

Our Team

Renee Cai, Founder & Editor in Chief

Cecilia Cary, Managing Editor

Jack Hurewitz, Deputy Managing Editor

Mya Cahana, Editor

Valentina Ménager, Editor

Arely Peckham, Editor

Reece Davidoff, Chief of Staff

Kylan Huang, Deputy Chief of Staff

Oceane Siegell-Gori, Creative Director

Eleonora Ziehler, Director of Finance

Charvik Arora, Contributor

Navya Arora, Contributor

Carolina Bor toni, Contributor

Sarah Chen, Contributor

Kyla Guimaraes, Contributor

Layla Kluth, Contributor

Maya Inaltong, Contributor

Matthew Lee, Contributor

Ximena López, Contributor

Noe Matthew, Contributor

Ace Meltzer, Contributor

Valentina Ménager, Contributor

Ayah Orynbay, Contributor

Zenchang Sun, Contributor

Zenchi Sun, Contributor


A Note From the Editor in Chief

Dear reader,

What a year it’s been for Hi, Science. A small idea to bridge the gap between science and the humanities in a fun and engaging way has turned into a club involving over fty students. This publication is now ocially Avenues’ rst tri-campus magazine, and a part of the science curriculum at the São Paulo campus.

I look forward to seeing Hi, Science continue to grow within Avenues and beyond as a powerful and accessible vehicle for STEM education and literacy.

Happy reading! I hope you discover something new.

Kylan Huang For Sea Turtles, There’s No Place Like Home 1 Cecilia Cary Can Statistics Find Your Soulmate? 2 Ace Meltzer Discovering the Gap in Your Vision 3 Ximena López The Marvelous World of Axolotls 4 Reece Davido Cosmic Helium: How the Moon Could Save Us 5 Kyla Guimaraes How Do Salamanders Regenerate Body Parts? 6 Maya Inaltong Uncovering Hidden Sequences in Nature 7 Zenchi Sun The Smelly Secret to Deep Sea Survival 8 Ayah Orynbay Could Another You Exist in a Parallel Universe? 9 Mya Cahana Are Our Genetics Set in Stone? 10 Valentina Ménager The Tomb of King Tutankhamun 11 Carolina Bortoni Protecting Our Planet One Whale at a Time 12 Noe Matthew TR APPIST-1: The Most Habitable Exoplanet 13 Navya Arora Why We Can’t Resist Grooving 14 Matthew Lee Aphantasia: Living Without a Mind’s Eye 15 Charvik Arora Who Shaves the Barber? A Famous Paradox 16 Sarah Chen Is Social Media Slowly Shaping Our Minds? 17 Layla Kluth Magnetoreception: The Sixth Sense of Birds 18 Zenchang Sun The Truth Behind Recycling Plastic 19 iv
Table of Contents

For Sea Tur tles , There’s No Place Like Home

Picture this: A newly hatched baby sea turtle digs its way out of its egg, ghts the waves lapping onto the beach, and crawls into the ocean. The beach is pretty ordinary you wouldn't even remember it after a few days but years later, this little turtle will nd its way back and lay its own eggs on the very same beach.

How in the world do these sea turtles nd their way back home? It seems like a wild feat, considering humans have a hard time even remembering what they ate for dinner the previous night Well, studies done on loggerhead sea turtles have shown that these turtles have their own memory superpower: geomagnetic imprinting.

Scientists have hypothesized that these turtles use the Earth’s magnetic eld to nd their way back home Our planet’s magnetic eld is like a magnet, with lines running from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere (below and above the equator, respectively). The vertical ring-like shapes cover less distance around the magnetic equator, and they become larger around the poles. The shape of each “ring” can be predicted for dierent locations. Similar to how humans use latitude and longitude coordinates to navigate, turtles use this magnetic eld.

This explains the “geomagnetic” part. But what does “imprinting” mean? Imprinting is a specic type of learning done over a short period of time with long-lasting results. It occurs when an animal needs to learn something that will be critically important for them in the future. For example, birds recognize the rst thing they see as their mother, whether that’s you, a set of car keys, or even a math textbook, as one study found. Scientists believe that sea turtles, after being born, are able to learn the magnetic signature of the beach they were born on essentially, the mixture of minerals in the beach’s soil that can be used to uniquely pinpoint the beach and use those results to nd their way home.

One of the most fascinating cases of geomagnetic imprinting is green sea turtles navigating their way through the Indian Ocean. They often need to readjust their course to compensate for errors of hundreds of miles but the turtles always arrive at their home beach. The magnetic eld also experiences constant change, but scientists have noticed that even as the magnetic eld of the Earth shifts, Florida turtles return to the shifted beach location Incredible!


Can Statistics Find Your Soulmate?

So you ’ re looking for love. But the whole soulmate thing is taking too long you want somebody perfect, and you're growing impatient. Have no fear, for statistics might have an answer to your dilemma.

Picture this: You’re a CEO and a big company-wide deadline is approaching. But uh oh your head secretary just quit. You need someone great and you need someone fast. How in the world can you nd this person?

Statisticians called this The Secretary Problem. You must interview n applicants, immediately deciding to either hire or deny them. If you deny them, they’re gone forever. Interviewing all n applicants would take too long, so you need to understand when to stop looking and just pick someone But where is that line?

The book Algorithms To Live By oers an answer: the 37% rule. The 37% rule says that in order to have the highest chance of success (hiring the best candidate), you must divide your interview process into “looking” and “leaping.” When looking, you are interviewing applicants and simply gathering information about each one (think credentials, special qualities, etc.) without thinking about hiring. When leaping, you are interviewing applicants with the understanding that you must make your nal choice of who to hire

With n applicants, the best place to draw the line between looking and leaping is at 37%. This is to say that you should be "looking" throughout the rst 37% of applicants. After you have interviewed these applicants, you must "leap" and hire the next candidate you nd that is better than everybody in that rst 37%. As the applicant pool grows, this optimal strategy gives you the highest chance of selecting the best candidate.

Well, we can apply the same rule to love Say you have n dates lined up and 6 months to nd a partner Just apply the 37% rule here and you ’ ve got a match! Sure, whether sparks y or not is entirely independent of mathematics but after your 5th mediocre date in a row, this may be an interesting strategy to consider!


Discovering the Gap in Your Vision

Close your right eye and stare at the small white square. Hold this page around a foot away from you. Without moving your eye, slowly move this page towards you. At some point, the large blue circle should fall behind your blind spot and disappear completely from view! Indeed, the circle should become part of the yellow background, a visual process known as lling in. Neat, right? You’ve just found your elusive blind spot, an area devoid of light receptors smack dab in the middle of your vision eld.

To understand your blind spot, you must rst understand how you see. The process starts with light passing into your pupil, the black dot in the center of your eye. As light passes through, the clear layer at the outermost part of your eye, the cornea, focuses the light so you can see clearly. The colored ring around it, the iris, has muscles that expand and contract to control the amount of light that enters the pupil, which helps you see even more clearly. Once light has entered your pupil, it passes through the lens of the eye, which focuses the light completely. After passing through the lens, light will hit the retina, the “wall” at the back of your eye. Photoreceptors, a specic kind of cell, absorb the light and transform it into electrical signals These signals travel through the optic nerve and into your brain Your brain then translates these signals into the images you see.

On the diagram, do you see the little spot of lighter color on the eye diagram, right between the optic nerve and the vitreous? That is your blind spot, where your eye needs to have a clearing for the nerve to pass through. As such, there are no receptors there, which means these light-detecting cells will not send signals to your brain and no image is formed!


g World of Axolotls

olotls are marvelous and adorable creatures that have come increasingly popular in recent years, making pearances in games like Minecraft. But how much do we lly know about them?

Axolotls are sometimes called “walking sh,” but this name is misleading. They are actually a species of salamander, native to the lakes of Xochimilco in Mexico City. Their name comes from Nahuatl, an Aztec language They are named after the Mexica deity of Xólotl, who, according to legend, disguised himself as a salamander to avoid being sacriced by his brothers

Axolotls can live up to 25 years and measure up to 25 centimeters. They feed on mollusks, worms, crustaceans, insect larvae, and even certain kinds of sh. They come in all shades, including brown, black, and pink Axolotls aren’t actually born with legs, only developing them at a week old They can also breathe in three dierent ways: through their gills, lungs or skin. In particular, their gills provide them with oxygen to breathe underwater. Axolotls dier from most other salamanders in that they live permanently in the water; in extremely rare cases, an axolotl will progress to maturity and emerge from the water, but in general, they are content to remain on the bottom of the lakes and canals of Xochimilco

Scientists are amazed by axolotls for many reasons. Unlike most salamanders who undergo metamorphosis, an axolotl retains its larval characteristics for most of its life, which accounts for unique tadpole features, like feathery gills and a long, thin dorsal n (located on its back) Axolotls also have the ability to heal and regenerate any part of their bodies without leaving a scar. When an axolotl suers an injury, its body is able to regenerate the injured body part, whether that be an entire limb, a spine, or even the brain or heart. This miraculous process only takes a couple of months. These creatures can also accept organ transplants from other salamanders, a trait that makes them intriguing in the eld of medical research

Unfortunately, these incredible creatures are currently in critical danger of extinction. They are threatened by the introduction of invasive species to the lakes of Xochimilco, the overexploitation of the natural resources in their habitat, and the general water and air pollution of Mexico City In 2019, there were only an estimated 50 to 1000 axolotls left in the wild. If we continue to treat axolotls the way we do now, we may only have ten years before they go extinct.

Is there still salvation for this little animal that has been the protagonist of Mexican legends? Maybe, but only if we take steps to respect and restore their natural habitat, like ltering the polluted lakes of Xochimilco and preventing the introduction of invasive sh to their native waters.


Cosmic Helium: How the Moon Could Save Us

For years, scientists working on sustainability and climate change issues on Earth have stared up at the Sun, the holy grail of energy production, in envy. The Sun seemed to laugh at our dinky little turbines while it eortlessly generated almost innite amounts of clean energy. Since the very beginning, all we have been able to do is look but now, with a little help from our friend the Moon, we could also have that clean, limitless power.

We rst need to understand how the Sun pulls o this innite-energy magic trick The short answer is: it cheats The Sun generates energy through nuclear fusion, a process by which atoms fuse and release unimaginable amounts of power. However, this only happens at temperatures upwards of one hundred million degrees, which the Sun reaches using its massive gravitational force. This force essentially squeezes everything in its core together super tightly until it gets hot enough for fusion.

Since the 1950s, the energy world has been drooling over this chemical process But in addition to guring out how to create these temperatures on Earth without gravity helping us out, it turns out that type of fuel we need is dicult to nd, and dangerous to handle.

The general consensus is that fusion reactors would use deuterium and tritium, two dierent isotopes (or cousins, if you will) of hydrogen Each plant would use about 125 kilograms of each substance per year. Deuterium is not an issue it can easily be harvested from seawater, making it aordable at $13 a gram. Tritium, on the other hand, only occurs when cosmic rays strike nitrogen molecules. Thankfully, the Earth has a big shield called the atmosphere which protects us from these rays, but the atmosphere, unfortunately, also protects these nitrogen molecules. This means tritium is extremely rare on Earth. If you were to try and get your hands on some, you would have to pay $30,000 for one gram the mere weight of a paperclip. To top it all o, tritium is also highly radioactive, making it dangerous to any living thing.

However, there is an alternative: helium-3, a non-radioactive cousin of helium that could be used instead of tritium At rst, it seems like helium-3 will have a similar issue to tritium: it is only found in cosmic solar dust, and our atmosphere protects us from most of it. But the Moon, which lacks an atmosphere, has been bombarded by this dust for billions of years, and is covered in helium-3. So all we have to do (to avoid the imminent danger our planet faces) is get a nice cozy room up to one hundred million degrees, mine some space dust from the Moon, and fuse it with ocean water hydrogen Seems easy, right?


How Do Salamanders Regenerate Body Par ts?

Salamanders have a superpower that sounds like it’s straight out of a movie: body part regeneration. When a salamander experiences the loss or amputation of a body part, they have the unique ability to regenerate it through a process called epimorphic regeneration.

Epimorphic regeneration does appear in other species such as deer (antler regeneration), zebrash (n/organ regeneration), and humans (we can regenerate the very tip of our ngers), but salamanders are one of the only species that can regenerate nearly all parts of their bodies, including complex structures such as their nervous system How can they do this? To best understand epimorphic regeneration, take the example of a salamander’s tail being amputated.

Within a few hours after the injury, skin cells will cover the surface of the wound, acting as an initial protective barrier to keep the injury from getting infected. The rate of skin regeneration in salamanders is much faster than that of mammals, including humans salamanders can create a new skin layer in as little as 10 hours, compared to 48-72 hours for mammals!

Next comes the cell proliferation and blastema cell phase. During this period, multiple blastemas gather at the site of injury. A blastema is a mass of cells with the ability to turn into an organ, limb, or even a missing salamander tail The process of turning blastema into the tail is called morphogenesis, in which the movement of cells develops an overall image of what the nal regrown tail should look like. The blastema will grow following this newly established shape, and individual cells will dierentiate and take on their new specic cell types to grow the missing tail. The blastema will continue to increase in number due to cell proliferation (increase in cells due to growth and division), and slowly, the missing tail will regenerate.

The tail will continue to grow over time as more blastema reach the site of injury until it is fully regrown This process can take anywhere from 40 days to a year depending on the age of the salamander, as regenerative abilities weaken with age The success of regeneration will also change depending on the amount of times the same body part has regrown. Ultimately, whether it be a tail, limb, organ, heart, or something else, the salamander can regenerate it! (scar-free, too!)


Uncovering Hidden Sequences in Nature

There are many beautiful patterns in mathematics, some of which can be observed outside a textbook and found in unexpected places in nature.

One such famous pattern is The Fibonacci Sequence, which was rst discovered over 2000 years ago by the ancient Indian poet and mathematician Acharya Pingala. Pingala came across the sequence when working with patterns in the classical language Sanskrit However, the sequence got its name from Leonardo of Pisa, an Italian mathematician later called Fibonacci who introduced the sequence to the Western world.

Each new term in the innite Fibonacci Sequence is made from the sum of the two previous terms. The rst ten terms of the sequence look like this: {0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34} and these terms can be dened with the formula: � �+2 = � �+1 + � �

This sequence can be observed in many natural aspects of the universe. One famous example is the sunower, where the sequence can be observed within its seeds. When counting the spirals of seeds in dierent directions, the spirals going in one direction add up to 21, the other direction 34, and the other direction 55, all numbers in the Fibonacci Sequence Beyond sunowers, this sequence can be observed in spiral leaf growth, pinecones, and many other plants

The sequence can be used to draw the Golden Spiral, a geometric pattern that is governed by the terms of the Fibonacci sequence The spiral begins with two 1x1 squares that border a 2x2 square Each square borders another square with the dimension of the sum of the two previous squares. So the next square would be a 3x3 square. And the next would be a 5x5 square, then an 8x8 square, and so on.

The Fibonacci Sequence appears in many parts of the universe, from the seeds in sunowers to the cells in organs and even in the formation of hurricanes and galaxies. The Golden Spiral is also a special tool for designers and artists, inuencing many profound pieces of art and architecture such as Dali’s Sacrament of the Last Supper

The Fibonacci sequence can truly appear in the most unexpected places. The next time you observe a spiral or any aspect of nature, try to see if you can nd the Fibonacci Sequence within it. You will be surprised at how many times you will nd it!


The Smelly Secret to Deep Sea Sur vival

If you have ever gone scuba diving, your ears start to feel like they're going to burst once you reach a depth of 20 meters. Go down for a while longer and your lungs will collapse, instantly killing you. So how do some sh travel to depths of 8,200 meters (a staggering 10 times the height of the Burj Khalifa)? The answer to their miraculous survival may lie in a smelly chemical named trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO).

Pressures at these deep depths are similar to 1,600 elephants standing on your head. Because of this tremendous pressure, water molecules get shoved against proteins such as lactate dehydrogenase, a protein essential for energy production. This shatters the important proteins and leads to the inability to repair and create new cells, resulting in death TMAO changes all of this It bonds with and stabilizes the water molecules, keeping the proteins from being damaged. The further down you go, the more TMAO you need to stay alive so the deepest sea creatures have the highest levels of this fascinating chemical.

TMAO also happens to be the reason why sh get stinkier after being out of water for a while. When they are not swimming, the sh have less TMAO and more trimethylamine (TMA), a more pungent substance that is responsible for the “shy” smell. TMA continuously turns into TMAO in the presence of water, so when the sh is out of the water, the reaction stops, and the TMA remains unchanged.

TMAO is already being used in the medical eld to treat diseases caused by high pressure, such as glaucoma (high pressure in the eye) and cystic brosis (high lung pressure). Recent research has also shown that TMAO may have helped prevent death in rats with heart failure All in all, TMAO injections are a possible treatment although you may walk around smelling like a rotting sh for a little while.


Could Another You Exist in a Parallel Universe?

Imagine if there was another universe where you decided to dye your hair pink or neon green. According to quantum physics theories about human existence, this version of you could be real.

The concept of the multiverse has been around since 1954, when physicist Hugh Everett III brought up the idea of the universe constantly splitting based on our decisions. He coined the “many-worlds” interpretation of quantum mechanics, which theorizes that the innite amount of parallel universes is determined by the innite amount of ways matter could be organized. In other words, every time you make a decision whether that be eating cereal for breakfast instead of toast or studying instead of procrastinating another universe is created where you make the alternate decision

But where are these universes? In the Level III multiverse (also called the “quantum multiverse”) theory formulated by MIT professor Max Tegmark, universes overlap in dimensions we can’t access, but all obey the same laws of physics In contrast, another theory known as inationary cosmology describes a Level II multiverse where the laws of physics can be dierent across universes. This conjecture involves the theory of the big bang, which states that around 13.8 billion years ago, our universe was an innitely small singularity that suddenly burst, expanding into the universe we now recognize as home in less than a second This exponential expansion at the beginning of the universe is known as cosmic ination. This phenomena has led many scientists to believe that cosmic ination occurred multiple times and created multiple universes. According to theoretical physicist Alexander Vilenkin, this ination only ended for everything we can detect from Earth 13.8 billion years ago, but continues in other places, creating new universes as a result This is also known as the theory of eternal ination

The theory suggests that when ination ends in one place, a new universe bubble forms. Since all of the bubbles are expanding at speeds faster than light, we will never be able to reach another universe aside from our own.

There is currently no concrete evidence of other universes existing. There is also no way to disprove the theory. We can not see farther outside of our universe, which creates tons of possibilities for what might be out there. But is it really worth the hassle to give credence to a theory if there is no way to test it? That is for you to decide


Are Our Genetics Set in Stone?

It may seem tempting to think that our genetics are determined from the moment we are born. The eld of psychology and genetics, called epigenetics, challenges this idea.

Epigenetics is the study of how your environment impacts your genetics. Outside factors such as culture, community, home life, and trauma may all play a role in the way your DNA is read These factors can change your likelihood of developing addictions, mental illnesses, your reaction to stress, your behavior, and more.

Epigenetic changes are not permanent. Your environment and experiences don’t actually change your genes themselves, rather the way your body reads and interprets them DNA methylation is one of the main examples of how epigenetics work. In this process, a group of molecules called a methyl group attach themselves onto a DNA sequence, inhibiting certain proteins that convert DNA into RNA. RNA is essentially a messenger: it sends genetic information to our cells so they can create proteins to complete their necessary processes When this conversion does not happen, the gene cannot “turn on ” and express itself. This process allows our genes to be expressed (turned on and o) in certain ways only when needed.

Epigenetics help us understand how addiction and mental illnesses develop, and how we can prevent them. Previously, it was thought that our likelihood of inheriting addiction and mental health issues depended only on our genetics and predispositions (basically, if it runs in your family), as the genes associated with these issues can be passed down through generations However, epigenetics opens up another way of developing or avoiding mental health conditions and addiction issues: upbringing and exposure. Even if you have a predisposition for alcohol abuse, your upbringing and lack of exposure to alcohol matters. If you don’t drink alcohol, there is no opportunity for your “alcoholism gene ” to express itself On the ip side, even if you do not have a genetic marker for alcohol abuse, addiction can develop if you have constant exposure to alcohol.

Overall, epigenetics helps us understand that we can defy our predispositions by making healthy choices Our genes themselves may be ‘set in stone,’ but we have inuence over the way we live!


The Tomb of King Tutankhamun

“I fear the Valley of Tombs is now exhausted,” wrote retired lawyer Theodore Davis, commenting on the circulating rumors of untouched burial sites in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. But Davis could not have

Archaeologist Howard Carter was determined to discove tomb of King Tutankhamun. He believed it would be lo the central oor of the valley, then covered by ancient o debris. He eventually convinced George Herbert, the ric Carnavon, to purchase the excavation rights Carter dug years, just to discover thirteen vases in the process It was through a clue given by Herbert Winlock, an Egyptologi Metropolitan Museum of Art, that the mystery of the to revealed Winlock had studied debris-lled jars inscribed Tutankhamun’s name in an unmarked tomb, and by com the debris with previous discoveries, Winlock realized wh debris really was materials used in Tutankhamun’s em He realized that the debris must have come from the pha tomb

Equipped with a better sense of the location of the tomb, Howard Carter began a nal round of excavations to nd King Tut on November 1, 1922. On Saturday, November 4th, a sunken staircase was discovered The next day, a door The door was made of rough stone, and at the very bottom were impressions of a basket, a scarab beetle, and the Sun’s disk, the emblem of none other than Tutankhamun himself. Carter described seeing Tutankhamun’s emblem as “ a thrilling moment.” Finally, after eight long years, he had struck gold.

Carter proceeded to break through a corner of the door and discover that the entrance was sealed with stones and rubble, proof that the last people to have entered the tomb were the priests who had sealed it. A few weeks later on November 26th, the archaeologists blasted through the nal two doors to the tomb. They came face-to-face with two large ebony statues of a king with gold stas, along with mountains of treasure The tomb transformed into something like a village, with chemists, historians, and archaeologists setting up camp in the damp narrow hallways between chambers, all trying to carefully move objects out of the way to be able to see the king himself. Carter nally was able to uncover the king himself on February 12th, 1924, as the team lifted a 2,500 pound stone o the seven foot sarcophagus made of wood and covered in gold The contents of the tomb would amount to more than ve thousand items over the next eight years, making it one of the most shocking and rich historical discoveries to date.


Protecting Our Planet One Whale at a Time

According to the rst law of ecology as written by the eminent ecologist Barry Commoner, “everything is connected to everything else.” Whales are a perfect example of this these marvelous animals haven’t just been the biggest and heaviest animals on Earth for the past 4.5 million years, they have also been essential for our survival.

Whales have been hunted throughout history, and the population of certain species has been reduced by a staggering 90%. Hunting happened for several motives. A primary motive was whale oil, which was used to fuel lamps, lubricate machines, and even to produce bombs in both World Wars Whale killing was turned into an industry, and hundreds of whales were killed quickly and without second thought.

However, killing whales causes something called a trophic cascade, an ecological phenomenon that destroys the balance of an ecosystem. These animals are essential to maintaining stability in the sea, mainly because of their movement and feces. For example, movements caused by whales in the sea are responsible for bringing sinking plankton back to the surface of the ocean, where the plankton can receive direct sunlight required to live and grow. Whales also provide a primary source of nutrition for plankton. When they go to the surface of the ocean to breathe, whales release feces that are rich in iron and nitrogen, two elements essential for plankton that also happen to be scarce at the surface. This special way that whales help support plankton by releasing feces is aptly called the “whale pump ”

That’s not all. Plankton is the primary source of oxygen in the world, supplying more oxygen than any forest. These microscopic underwater organisms provide an estimated 85% of our world’s oxygen By helping plankton thrive, it is estimated that each great whale helps to withdraw 33 tons of CO2 from the ocean surface in their lifetime, a huge step towards combating climate change.

These mighty animals make quite the positive impact let’s do our best to protect them, and our world!


TRAPPIST-1: The Most Habitable Exoplanet

For decades, scientists have been discussing what other planets might be habitable to humans. Because of recent concerns over climate change, the search for a new, healthy planet has drastically increased in relevance and magnitude. So far, scientists have found around 59 habitable exoplanets. But which one is the most habitable? The answer to this question may lie in TR APPIST-1.

Discovered in February 2017, TR APPIST-1 is a star system 40 light yea away from Earth (around 240 trillion miles or 386 trillion kilometers) has existed for 7.6 billion years, around three billion years longer than o solar system. The system centers around a cool red dwarf star. The surface temperature of this star is around 2,500 Kelvin, less than half th temperature of our sun For a star system like ours, the red dwarf wouldn’t have enough heat for the planets to be habitable However, TR APPIST-1’s planets are close enough to the star that they still have similar temperatures to the planets in our solar system.

What truly distinguishes TR APPIST-1 is that the star system contains not one, but seven Earth-like planets: TR APPIST-1b, -1c, -1d, -1e, -1f, -1g, and -1h. So which one is the most habitable? At the center of the system is TR APPIST-1b and 1c, the planets closest to the red dwarf star. Both planets exhibit similar mass, terrain, and atmosphere to Earth, but their close proximity to the star causes the planets to be very hot, making them uninhabitable What about the planets on the outer edge of the star system, then? Well, TR APPIST-1f, -1g, and -1h are also similar to Earth, but the cold temperatures make them uninhabitable. We’re now left with the planets in the middle: TR APPIST-1d and TR APPIST-1e. These planets exist in “the habitable zone. ” They have lots of liquid water on them, possibly more than the Earth’s oceans! But which one is more habitable? Well, TR APPIST-1d’s atmosphere may be too thin So we have our winner: TR APPIST-1e!

There’s one catch, though. We have to consider the tidal lock of TR APPIST-1e. A tidal lock is when an object orbiting a bigger object gets trapped in that bigger object's gravitational pull, causing the smaller object only to show one face to the bigger object If this is the case for TR APPIST-1e and the red dwarf star, the side of the planet facing the star would be much hotter than the part that is not, and the other side would be much colder. Depending on how drastic this eect is, there may only be a small sliver of habitable area on this planet. This sliver is called the terminator line, an area where the cold and hot zones of the planet meet This would be the place most suitable for life on the planet So, the most habitable place in the universe, other than Earth, may be a tiny sliver of a small planet in the TR APPIST-1 system!


Why We Can’t Resist Grooving

Why is it that when we hear certain songs, we nd it impossible not to move? Even from the moment we are born, we naturally clap our hands to the rhythm of our favorite tunes. Research has shown that dancing to music has an eect on your brain unlike any other.

A recent study showed a fascinating correlation between our walking tempo and our instinctive movements as a reaction to a song. The average walking tempo of humans is about 120 steps per minute, and the study showed that 120 beats per minute (BPM) was the tempo that induced the most micromovements, or subtle body movements, in the majority of its participants. Many participants couldn’t help but move to various other songs with diering rhythms, but 120 BPM was associated with the most micromovements. It was also shown that pulse clarity and rhythm had a signicant eect on whether or not participants displayed involuntary movement as a reaction to music. A strong, clear rhythm was most likely to make people move, more so than the lyrics or instruments in the song. Another major factor was anticipation: when you hear the rst few seconds of a song your brain already knows it likes, it produces an early release of dopamine.

The combination of music and movement, often executed through dance, constitutes a “pleasure double play” in your brain Music stimulates your brain’s reward centers, while movement simultaneously activates your sensory and motor circuits. The result is the rare production of 4 feel-good chemicals: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins, collectively known as DOSE, all from just one simple activity

This type of mental stimulation has shown to help reduce the risk of dementia in elderly individuals, perhaps even more than the mental stimulation required for any other typical leisure activity. Dance was also shown to be therapeutic for people with Parkinson’s disease, which is associated with the loss of cells that produce dopamine. So, the next time you catch yourself moving to your favorite song, don’t be afraid or embarrassed! Dancing to your favorite song is not only fun in the moment, but it may also be benecial for your future health and wellbeing!


Aphantasia: Living Without a Mind’s Eye

Imagine that it is a warm summer day and you are sitting on the side of a swimming pool. The sun is shining, and children are laughing and splashing in the water. What images do you see as you think about this scene? If you are unable to visualize anything, you may have aphantasia.

Aphantasia is the inability to visualize imagery Aphantasia is believed to be rare, aecting only 1% to 3% of the population. People with aphantasia cannot conjure an image of a scene or a face in their minds. It may be congenital present from birth or it may appear later in life as a result of a brain injury or psychological issues.

The term aphantasia was created in 2015, but records date its existence back to Aristotle, who described the ability to ‘imagine’ as phantasia. The cause of aphantasia is not yet fully understood, but research suggests that it may be linked to under activity in the brain regions responsible for visual imagery When a brain region is underactive, there is a reduced blood and oxygen ow to the region, suggesting a decrease in neural activity In the case of people with aphantasia, the reduction in blood and oxygen is consistent in regions like the parietal and occipital lobes, which process sensory and visual information and allow us to generate and manipulate mental images. These regions are responsible for our ability to imagine, remember, and plan for the future.

Aphantasia may cause lower sensory sensitivity and diculties with facial recognition. It can also aect a person ’ s creativity, but it may help develop other ways to experience learning. For example, people with aphantasia may use verbal descriptions or written notes to aid them in understanding and remembering information It is important to understand that a person with aphantasia still has the capacity to remember and describe their memories, they just simply cannot visualize them

There may be some benets. People with aphantasia have been shown to have higher levels of IQ, and are more resilient against tra d to daydreaming about the past


Who Shaves the Barber? A Famous Paradox

You’re in need of a trim, and when you arrive at the local barbershop, you notice a strange set of rules nailed to the wall:

1. The barber shaves everyone who does not shave themselves.

2. The barber can only shave those who do not shave themselves.

We can more concisely dene the barber as one who shaves all who do not shave themselves. But let’s assume the barber does not shave himself. According to the rule, the barber must shave himself, as the barber shaves everyone who does not shave themselves. So does the barber shave himself or not shave himself? In other words, who shaves the barber?

This paradox nds its roots in the late 1800s, when mathematicians like Cantor and Dedekind laid the foundations of set theory, a branch of mathematics that looks at math through the lens of sets. Sets are collections of mathematical objects, such as numbers, or anything that can be formally dened in our mathematical system These collections are created by dening a common property For example, we can call all rational numbers that do not contain a fraction a set of integers.

Set theory has a deceptively simple premise, but it’s a place where intuitive ideas result in quite unintuitive paradoxes While it at rst may seem natural to be able to create a set from any given property this is called the unrestricted comprehension principle mathematician Bertrand Russell discovered a paradox by creating what he calls a Russell set. A Russell set contains all sets that do not contain themselves, much like our situation with the barbershop rules. So, does the Russell set contain itself?

If the Russell set does not contain itself, it must be a part of the Russell set because it is now a set that does not contain itself. But, if it contains itself, it can no longer be a part of the Russell set as it now would be a set that contains itself. So we ’ re trapped in a paradox! Like Russell, we are forced to confront the axioms that make asking such a question possible After all, mathematicians and logicians loathe contradictions in their systems. We must make it impossible to construct the Russell set in the rst place. We do this by replacing the unrestricted comprehension principle with the separation axiom. The separation axiom restricts what can be a set and introduces the idea of classes. A class is simply a collection of elements that follows a rule and can be empty thus, all sets are classes But not all classes are sets, as some classes do not fulll the rules laid out by the separation axiom these are called proper classes. These proper classes can not be a part of other classes. So, the Russell set is not a set at all, but a proper class, and as classes only sort sets, it does not have to sort itself! It seems you found yourself in a barbershop that is so absurd, it simply cannot exist!


Is Social Media Slowly Shaping Our Minds?

Social media is, without a doubt, one of the pillars of modern day society. It is also eerily similar to an idea that is 2400 years old:

Plato's Cave.

Plato’s Cave is an allegory presented by the Greek philosopher Plato. In his allegory, a select number of people have been imprisoned in a cave from childhood, but not from birth. The prisoners are forced to face the cave wall and are chained so they cannot look around the cave, nor at each other Directly behind the prisoners is a brick wall and a re, where people walk carrying objects and puppets of living things. The prisoners are unable to see anyone or anything behind them, seeing only the shadows cast by the puppets. The voices of the people echo o the walls, causing the prisoners to believe these voices come from the shadows The few prisoners that have escaped are the ones in charge of making the shadows.

Suppose one prisoner is freed. The prisoner looks around and spots the re. He is blinded by the bright light and is unable to see the objects casting the shadow on the wall. It hurts his eyes, and he opts to return to the shadows. But somebody drags the prisoner out of the cave, refusing to stop until they reach the light of the sun They tell the prisoner that everything out there is real The prisoner is angry Slowly, however, the prisoner adjusts himself to the bright, natural light, and sees the people and the objects themselves. Eventually, he looks up at the stars and the moon, and later on, even at the sun. Only after he sees the sun is he able to have reason.

We can draw parallels from Plato’s Cave to modern day social media. Like imprisonment in the cave, social media is not implemented from birth: certain social norms slowly ease you into it In some places you are expected to have a phone, and when meeting a new person, it becomes a convention to ask for their Instagram or their Snapchat. Every time you view a post or story, your brain is triggered to release dopamine, a feel-good chemical, resulting in a neurological “high” and eventual addiction. Pop-ups and notications ensure that users are as distracted as they can be and shrink the parts of the brain responsible to maintain concentration, like the prefrontal cortex

When we view too much social media, we are hyper-focused on the false shadows on the cave wall. Not all teenagers have a perfect face and a perfect life. Not all 18 year olds are earning $100k a year from dropshipping. Social media is only what those who have escaped the cave want you to see. When it is taken away from us, we become angry from the lack of dopamine, and we are forced out into the real world Perhaps, though, once you escape the cave, you realize that the world is not what you believe it is.


Magnetoreception: The Sixth Sense of Birds

Every year, billions of birds migrate over our heads, many traveling on a long journey between Canada and South America. Yet the question remains: how are they able to navigate so successfully? Some navigation methods include following landmarks (like the Hudson River), using the sun, and possibly using smell. While this feat of navigation is already impressive, it’s now believed that birds may even have a sixth sense that helps with their waynding—magnetoreception, which allows them to detect and utilize Earth’s magnetic eld.

In 1978, Biophysicist Klaus Schulten proposed a revolutionary idea that magnetically-initiated chemical reactions are the basis of magnetoreception Like many scientists who were skeptical, you may be thinking that the magnetic eld is not nearly powerful enough to aect chemical composition the amount of energy it takes to break apart bonds must be too great However, a radical pair actually makes this hypothesis possible

Later investigation suggests that a protein called cryptochrome acts as the magnetoreceptor in a bird’s eye The sun emits all colors of visible light, and when blue light from the sun hits the protein, two molecules with unpaired electrons are formed simultaneously. This is called a radical pair. Electrons have a magnetic eld, since they have charge and they spin (either spinning up or down) which produces electric current. The unpaired electrons go into a special “waltz” where they rapidly switch between two spin states, spinning in the opposite direction and spinning in the same direction The magnetic eld can aect which state dominates. Once aected by the magnetic eld, the radicals experience chemical change, and signals are sent to the brain.

Phew While the concept of magnetoreception may seem complex, it's worth remembering that even our most basic senses can be dicult to describe to those who have never experienced them. How exactly would you describe sight to a person who has never seen before? It’s hard to put into words what exactly sight is without using a concept that a slightless person would not understand. In the case of birds, their sense of direction is simply a part of their innate ability to navigate the world around them.


The Truth Behind Recycling Plastic

Have you ever wondered what actually happens when you throw your plastic water bottle in the recycling bin? While recycling is often thought of as a way to repurpose materials for environmental benet, the reality is not as simple.

The journey of a recycled plastic water bottle begins with collection at recycling facilities At a facility, the bottle is cleaned, to remove any contaminants such as food residue or other non-plastic materials. After cleaning, the plastic bottle is chopped into small akes or pellets. These akes are then heated and molded into new products, such as new plastic bottles, or other plastic products like plastic lumber or plastic furniture

This is the ideal image of recycling. But this does not always happen. Most of the time, your water bottle might end up in a landll instead According to Nature com, the United States does not have the infrastructure to recycle or reuse all of our waste, with only 11% of recycled materials being reused! Additionally, the U.S. exported much of its plastic waste to China for recycling, but China recently banned imports of plastic garbage due to an increase in here

In some cases, it may even be more environmentally frie dispose of recyclable materials in landlls, rather than re them Factoring in the carbon emissions from recycling treatment facilities and transportation, as well as the low percentage of recycled materials that are actually repurp recycling plastic may even have a negative impact on the environment

To address this recycling crisis, we should focus on redu waste overall, rather than relying on recycling as a soluti next time, consider using a reusable water bottle ins


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Kosik, H (2019, May 15) Here’s why dancing is good for your brain Ladders

https://www theladders com/career-advice/heres-why-dancing-is-good-for-your-brain

Science Confirms that Dancing Makes You Happy! (2020, June 1) Townsville Academy of Performing Arts Retrieved February 23, 2023, from https://www tapa net au/2020/06/01/science-confirms-that-dancing-makes-you-happy/ Pileberg, S. (2021, February 8). Some music makes it impossible to stand still. Partner Science Norway.

https://partner sciencenorway no/music-society-and-culture-the-brain/some-music-makes-it-impossible-to-stand-still/1808880

“Aphantasia: Living Without a Mind’s Eye” by Matthew Lee

Cherry, K (2022, September 20) Aphantasia: When you are blind in your mind Verywell Mind

https://www verywellmind com/aphantasia-overview-4178710?

Dutta, N (2022, March 8) What it's like to be 'mind blind' Time https://time com/6155443/aphantasia-mind-blind/

Dance, C (2022, December 16) Less sensory overwhelm in Aphantasia: A potential advantage? Aphantasia Network

https://aphantasia com/sensory-overwhelm/

What is Aphantasia? Aphantasia Network (2023, January 12) https://aphantasia com/what-is-aphantasia/

Gregg, J (2022, November 15) Is aphantasia a memory disorder? Psychology Today

https://www psychologytoday com/us/blog/elegant-arguments/202211/is-aphantasia-memory-disorder

Jackson, L (2022, October 26) 7 unexpected benefits to not having a mind's eye Ideapod

https://ideapod com/not-having-a-minds-eye/

History of aphantasia - a timeline of events Aphantasia Network (2023, January 11)

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Yetman, D (2021, March 14) Is there an aphantasia cure? about the neurological condition Healthline

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Benisek, A (n d ) What is Aphantasia? WebMD https://www webmd com/brain/what-is-aphantasia

Can you see things in a different way? Aphantasia, ipos, and newsletters Leon Lin (2019, July 31)


“Who Shaves the Barber? A Famous Paradox” by Charvik Arora

Bagaria, J (2021) "Set Theory", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2021 Edition), Edward N Zalta (ed ) Carneades.org. (2018, October 12). Sets, classes, and Russell's paradox (axiomatic set theory). YouTube.

https://www youtube com/watch?v=6v0Rph8SLeI

Carneades org (2018, October 11) The axiom of Separation (Axiom Schema) axiomatic set theory YouTube

https://www youtube com/watch?v=oDQzPftwh8w


Russell, B. (2010). The Philosophy of Logical Atomism. Routledge Classics.

“Is Social Media Slowly Shaping Our Minds?” by Sarah Chen

D’Olimpio, L (2019, March 18) The allegory of the cave - Plato explained by The Ethics Centre https://ethics org au/ethics-explainer-platos-cave/

Ospino, L (2022, October 24) Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and Its Connection to the Present Greekreporter com

https://greekreporter com/2022/10/24/plato-allegory-cave-connection-present-greece/

Atske, S (2022, May 11) Social media use in 2021 Pew Research Center: Internet, Science &amp; Tech

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Tamir, D I , Templeton, E M , Ward, A F , &amp; Zaki, J (2018) Media usage diminishes memory for experiences Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 76, 161–168 https://doi org/10 1016/j jesp 2018 01 006

He, Q , Turel, O , & Bechara, A (2017) Brain anatomy alterations associated with Social Networking Site (SNS) addiction

Scientific reports, 7, 45064 https://doi org/10 1038/srep45064

Rupp, E (2022, March 16) The infinite scroll: Why it's so addictive and how to break free Freedom Matters Retrieved February 23, 2023, from https://freedom to/blog/infinite-scroll/

Image Credit: 4edges/CC BY-SA 4 0

“Magnetoreception: The Sixth Sense of Birds” by Layla Kluth

Powell, H (2021, August 1) The basics of bird migration: How, why, and where All About Birds

https://www allaboutbirds org/news/the-basics-how-why-and-where-of-bird-migration/ Hore, P J , & Mouritsen, H (2022, April 1) How migrating birds use quantum effects to navigate Scientific American

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University of Illinois. (n.d.). The magnetic sense of animals. Theoretical Biophysics Group. https://www ks uiuc edu/Research/magsense/ms html

“The Truth Behind Recycling Plastic” by Zenchang Sun

Wen, Z , Xie, Y , Chen, M et al China’s plastic import ban increases prospects of environmental impact mitigation of plastic waste trade flow worldwide Nat Commun 12, 425 (2021) https://doi org/10 1038/s41467-020-20741-9

Saplakoglu, Y (2019, June 17) The Plastic We 'Recycle' Is Actually Horrible for the Environment Live Science

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Illustration by Devita ayu Silvianingtyas

https://www istockphoto com/vector/hand-drawn-doodle-throw-plastic-bottles-in-the-trash-bin-illustration-vector-gm14007541 85-454228386?utm medium=organic&utm source=google&utm campaign=iptcurl&scrlybrkr=4d153b01


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