Page 1

Tp

Fa Falconium 2008.2009

FALCONIUM

TORREY PINES HIGH SCHOOL

1

premier issue

say hello to

the

TPSJ

SPOTLIGHT: GENETICS

HEALTH DISCRIMINATION 11 WILL YOU BE DENIED INSURANCE?

MEET YOUR BODY’S

NEW BEST FRIEND 13 REBIRTH OF EARTH’S

ROAMING GIANTS 17

08/09

TPSJ OFFICERS


tpsj 5

letter from the President

6

meet the officers: konichiwa

9

TPSJ SPOTLIGHT: genetics genetic testing: blessing or curse?

noun

F r o m r o o t “ f a l c o n” ( T P’s f a m e d m a s c o t ) a n d s u f f i x “- i u m” ( L a t i n t e r m u s e d i n e n d i n g s o f chemical elements)

1. The scientific element of Torrey Pines High School. 2. The name of Torrey Pines High School’s science journal.

3. The greatest high school science journal ever published.

content table

Falconium Falconium [fălkō’nēəm]

The purple tomato Alteration of Corepressor SMRT In Mice the wooly mammoth returns

18

ADHD braniac: a new kind of smart

20

in a future age: organ printing

21

opinion: TPSJ debates the pros and

23

super collider: a new look on

cons of stem cell research physics


tpsj 5

letter from the President

6

meet the officers: konichiwa

9

TPSJ SPOTLIGHT: genetics genetic testing: blessing or curse?

noun

F r o m r o o t “ f a l c o n” ( T P’s f a m e d m a s c o t ) a n d s u f f i x “- i u m” ( L a t i n t e r m u s e d i n e n d i n g s o f chemical elements)

1. The scientific element of Torrey Pines High School. 2. The name of Torrey Pines High School’s science journal.

3. The greatest high school science journal ever published.

content table

Falconium Falconium [fălkō’nēəm]

The purple tomato Alteration of Corepressor SMRT In Mice the wooly mammoth returns

18

ADHD braniac: a new kind of smart

20

in a future age: organ printing

21

opinion: TPSJ debates the pros and

23

super collider: a new look on

cons of stem cell research physics


saluthola goedendag shalom aloha

Helium, Lithium, Beryllium, Potassium, Zirconium, Uranium--such are the names of a few elements that comprise every gram, microgram, and amu of the world around us. In this historic moment of the 2008-2009 school year, TP Science Journal presents a new element, not to the classic period table, but to the Torrey Pines High School community--an element we dub Falconium. It is with confidence in the academic prestige of Torrey Pines and talent of our student body that we begin this new tradition. Seeking to unleash and utilize the scientific and creative potential teeming around us, we commence with a mission of promoting an active and thoughtful scientific community on campus, in which, whether through writing the articles or reading the published journal, everyone participates and is benefited with scientific knowledge and inspiration. With these hopes, Torrey Pines High School’s first and only science journal, aptly named Falconium, is founded. Beginning from only a seed of an idea, science journal has sprouted and grown tremendously this year in an amazingly short period of time. In September, we brought only a rough conception, many questions, and a unclear future to Torrey Pines. We knew the student body has more than adequate talent and potential, but how do we motivate students to write articles when, as a little known club with no funding and no tangible results, we could promise nothing in return? How do we impel people to care about science journal? It seemed vast problems loomed ahead. The progress in the next months was truly humbling. Despite our perplexities, on club day (September 25th), over 100 people expressed interest, signed up, and offered their helping hand. Since then, more than two dozen articles have been submitted by students of all grade levels. In addition, twenty dedicated student staff members have edited, designed, and planned science journal on their own time as well as giving up their lunch time every Friday to discuss science journal together. My deepest thanks is owed to those who have contributed, volunteering their energy and time and believing in the future of Science Journal when it was but a vision. It is because of everyone’s benevolence that today, less than half a year since our first official club meeting, Falconium’s premiere issue can be presented to Torrey Pines High School. Surrounded by San Diego’s milieu of Biotechnology related sciences, we focus our first issue on genetics--present technology, ongoing research, and future aspirations. Our authors share their thoughts on stem cells, genetically engineered (and quite colorful) foods, the downside to genetic advancements, and much more. So soars Falconium into the circle of publications and academic prestige of Torrey Pines High School. Welcome it from cover to cover.

-Alice Fang, President

Hello.

Guten Tag welcome welcomethe the

08.09 officers 08.09 Falconium Falconium officers noor al-alusi

Noor Al-Alusi, a sophomore at Torrey Pines, is an editor and publicist on the staff of Falconium. When she is not doing schoolwork, you could probably find her shopping, running, debating, or hanging out with friends.

olga batalov Olga Batalov is one of the Falconium graphic designers. Her favorite subjects are biology and ecology. She loves reading, watching scientific programs on television and taking care of her diverse plant collection. She enjoys hiking and visiting parks, her favorites being Yellowstone, Joshua Tree, Carlsbad Caverns and Yosemite. She also loves snorkeling and has scuba dived several times.

emily cai Emily Cai is a junior and is currently taking AP Biology and AP Environmental Science. She has always loved science, especially the aspect of conducting experiments and she participates in Science Olympiad as well. In her spare time she harnesses the power of video games and plays the piano.

Much gratitude is owed to Mr. Belyea, our club advisor and Physics and Chemistry teacher at TPHS, who first shared the idea of a Science Journal and whose constant support makes this possible.

5

6


saluthola goedendag shalom aloha

Helium, Lithium, Beryllium, Potassium, Zirconium, Uranium--such are the names of a few elements that comprise every gram, microgram, and amu of the world around us. In this historic moment of the 2008-2009 school year, TP Science Journal presents a new element, not to the classic period table, but to the Torrey Pines High School community--an element we dub Falconium. It is with confidence in the academic prestige of Torrey Pines and talent of our student body that we begin this new tradition. Seeking to unleash and utilize the scientific and creative potential teeming around us, we commence with a mission of promoting an active and thoughtful scientific community on campus, in which, whether through writing the articles or reading the published journal, everyone participates and is benefited with scientific knowledge and inspiration. With these hopes, Torrey Pines High School’s first and only science journal, aptly named Falconium, is founded. Beginning from only a seed of an idea, science journal has sprouted and grown tremendously this year in an amazingly short period of time. In September, we brought only a rough conception, many questions, and a unclear future to Torrey Pines. We knew the student body has more than adequate talent and potential, but how do we motivate students to write articles when, as a little known club with no funding and no tangible results, we could promise nothing in return? How do we impel people to care about science journal? It seemed vast problems loomed ahead. The progress in the next months was truly humbling. Despite our perplexities, on club day (September 25th), over 100 people expressed interest, signed up, and offered their helping hand. Since then, more than two dozen articles have been submitted by students of all grade levels. In addition, twenty dedicated student staff members have edited, designed, and planned science journal on their own time as well as giving up their lunch time every Friday to discuss science journal together. My deepest thanks is owed to those who have contributed, volunteering their energy and time and believing in the future of Science Journal when it was but a vision. It is because of everyone’s benevolence that today, less than half a year since our first official club meeting, Falconium’s premiere issue can be presented to Torrey Pines High School. Surrounded by San Diego’s milieu of Biotechnology related sciences, we focus our first issue on genetics--present technology, ongoing research, and future aspirations. Our authors share their thoughts on stem cells, genetically engineered (and quite colorful) foods, the downside to genetic advancements, and much more. So soars Falconium into the circle of publications and academic prestige of Torrey Pines High School. Welcome it from cover to cover.

-Alice Fang, President

Hello.

Guten Tag welcome welcomethe the

08.09 officers 08.09 Falconium Falconium officers noor al-alusi

Noor Al-Alusi, a sophomore at Torrey Pines, is an editor and publicist on the staff of Falconium. When she is not doing schoolwork, you could probably find her shopping, running, debating, or hanging out with friends.

olga batalov Olga Batalov is one of the Falconium graphic designers. Her favorite subjects are biology and ecology. She loves reading, watching scientific programs on television and taking care of her diverse plant collection. She enjoys hiking and visiting parks, her favorites being Yellowstone, Joshua Tree, Carlsbad Caverns and Yosemite. She also loves snorkeling and has scuba dived several times.

emily cai Emily Cai is a junior and is currently taking AP Biology and AP Environmental Science. She has always loved science, especially the aspect of conducting experiments and she participates in Science Olympiad as well. In her spare time she harnesses the power of video games and plays the piano.

Much gratitude is owed to Mr. Belyea, our club advisor and Physics and Chemistry teacher at TPHS, who first shared the idea of a Science Journal and whose constant support makes this possible.

5

6


alice fang Alice Fang is a sophomore and president of Falconium. found Science Journal, created the original website, the Friday lunch meetings. She loves science and music, especially playing the violin. Her favorite animals

7

daniel qu She helped and leads also enjoys are ducks.

Daniel Qu, a senior at Torrey Pines, is the news editor on the Falconium as well as an editor on the school’s newspaper and Literary Magazine. He loves singing, playing Rock Band with his buddies, a dog named Cocoa, good sushi, and long hours of ping-pong. He is currently working on forming a band with his friends.

ling jing

tavia sin

Combining her interest in both science and the arts, Ling Jing is a review editor and graphic designer for Science Journal. Her favorite field of science is biology, specifically genetics and ecology. She also has a fondness for parrots, the music of Puccini, and frozen blueberries.

Tavia Sin is one of the secretaries for science journal. She is in charge of inviting more people to join Science Journal and getting staff jackets, shirts and sweaters. She is also responsible for miscellaneous jobs that come up where needed. Tavia enjoys making crafts and playing musical instruments.

connie liu

rebecca su

Connie Liu is an op-ed editor for the Falconium Science Journal. She is a freshman at Torrey Pines High School. In her free time, she enjoys reading, going on the internet, watching TV, playing the violin and hanging with her friends.

Rebecca Su is a freshman at Torrey Pines and loving it! As an editor, she is thrilled to be part of the Falconium team for its very first year. Her hobbies include reading, playing flute and piano, listening to music, shopping, and hanging out with friends and family.

angela qian

amanda yuan

Angela Qian is a secretary who looks for “Science Journal-y” things like jackets, T-shirts, et cetera. A secretary also looks for ways to improve Science Journal to make it a prestigious club that people will put as first priority in front of other obligations and ways to involve all members of Sciene Journal, not just officers.

Amanda Yuan, a junior at Torrey Pines, is the design editor of the Falconium. She is active in the school’s publications and loves all forms of art. She spends her time photographing, designing, writing, and adventuring. She loves late-night beach visits, silly conversation, people that make her laugh and music that makes her dance.

8


alice fang Alice Fang is a sophomore and president of Falconium. found Science Journal, created the original website, the Friday lunch meetings. She loves science and music, especially playing the violin. Her favorite animals

daniel qu She helped and leads also enjoys are ducks.

Daniel Qu, a senior at Torrey Pines, is the news editor on the Falconium as well as an editor on the school’s newspaper and Literary Magazine. He loves singing, playing Rock Band with his buddies, a dog named Cocoa, good sushi, and long hours of ping-pong. He is currently working on forming a band with his friends.

ling jing

tavia sin

Combining her interest in both science and the arts, Ling Jing is a review editor and graphic designer for Science Journal. Her favorite field of science is biology, specifically genetics and ecology. She also has a fondness for parrots, the music of Puccini, and frozen blueberries.

Tavia Sin is one of the secretaries for science journal. She is in charge of inviting more people to join Science Journal and getting staff jackets, shirts and sweaters. She is also responsible for miscellaneous jobs that come up where needed. Tavia enjoys making crafts and playing musical instruments.

connie liu

rebecca su

Connie Liu is an op-ed editor for the Falconium Science Journal. She is a freshman at Torrey Pines High School. In her free time, she enjoys reading, going on the internet, watching TV, playing the violin and hanging with her friends.

Rebecca Su is a freshman at Torrey Pines and loving it! As an editor, she is thrilled to be part of the Falconium team for its very first year. Her hobbies include reading, playing flute and piano, listening to music, shopping, and hanging out with friends and family.

angela qian

amanda yuan

Angela Qian is a secretary who looks for “Science Journal-y” things like jackets, T-shirts, et cetera. A secretary also looks for ways to improve Science Journal to make it a prestigious club that people will put as first priority in front of other obligations and ways to involve all members of Sciene Journal, not just officers.

Amanda Yuan, a junior at Torrey Pines, is the design editor of the Falconium. She is active in the school’s publications and loves all forms of art. She spends her time photographing, designing, writing, and adventuring. She loves late-night beach visits, silly conversation, people that make her laugh and music that makes her dance. Not pictured: Varun Chaturvedi, Michelle Chen, Katya Glazko, Catherine Li, Stanley Liu, Leslie McCracken, Marci Rosenberg, Sara Shu, and Lauren Sweet

7

8


TPSJ SPOTLIGHT

ONE.genetic testing

two.purple tomatoes three.altered mice

four.wooly mammoths

say goodbye to your favorite red tomato and make room in your fridge for some purple ones, and if you get a chance, stop by the local zoo and pet a woolly mammoth or two, but don’t forget to check your records to make sure you aren’t a victim of genetic profiling; oh, boy don’t you love the wonders of

G E NE TI C S 9

I do

10


TPSJ SPOTLIGHT

ONE.genetic testing

two.purple tomatoes three.altered mice

four.wooly mammoths

say goodbye to your favorite red tomato and make room in your fridge for some purple ones, and if you get a chance, stop by the local zoo and pet a woolly mammoth or two, but don’t forget to check your records to make sure you aren’t a victim of genetic profiling; oh, boy don’t you love the wonders of

G E NE TI C S 9

I do

10


GENETIC TESTING: BLESSING OR CURSE?

BY LING JING

ART BY MICHELLE CHEN

G

enes are the sections of DNA that encode every ounce of a human’s physical being. For years, humankind has strived to decode and fully understand these foundations of life, hoping that in them lay the answers to millions of unsolved mysteries: cures to diseases, causes of physical and psychological ailments, perhaps even a how-to-manual on redesigning genes. Yet, as we begin to reap the benefits of genetic knowledge, it often seems we are opening a Pandora’s Box. Since the launching of the Human Genome Project in 1990, it is becoming increasingly apparent that advancements such as genetic testing can be detrimental and act as instigators of discrimination. As genetic testing becomes more affordable, complex, and useful, genetic discrimination may soon become a widespread (and perhaps disastrous) reality. When privacy rights are broken as a result of genetic testing, people’s health coverage, ability to acquire a job, as well as peace of mind may be affected. Privacy has always been an issue in the medical world, especially since the shift to electronic health records. Such new measures for efficiency have taken away the choice of “selective recall,” in which individuals decide what information will be given to health care providers. Concurrently, genetic knowledge has been expanding in the past decade. Progress has been made in understanding complex, environmentally influenced, multiple-gene diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, cardiovascular disease, and an innumerable more. The number of genetic tests available has also grown to beyond 1,500. In addition, Companies such as 23andMe, deCODE genetics, DNA Direct, and GeneDX are also offering marketing complete gene tests that may cost as little as one thousand dollars within a decade. The use of genetic information in even standard healthcare is becoming increasingly common. These recent developments have sparked reasonable concerns for genetic privacy.

11

To illustrate, in April 1999, a woman named Terri Sergeant tested positive for the alpha-1 antitrypsin gene, which is responsible for a disease that severely hinders breathing by stiffening the lungs. When her employer learned of her condition, which requires expensive treatment, she was fired and lost her health insurance. Cases like those of Sergeant reflect the main concerns regarding genetic testing. Individuals fear that knowledge of genetic predispositions can result in embarrassment, discredit, and financial difficulty that cancel out the benefits of genetic testing. Like in the case of Sergeant, insurers could deny health insurance or raise premiums for people with genes for costly disorders. Employers could also reject job-seekers or fire employees based on their genetic information. Individuals who have tested positive for harmful genes may also feel uneasy and stressed—lacking the peace of mind that a society should work to grant to all its members—when applying for jobs, compensation benefits, or obtaining life insurance, due to knowledge that their medical data can easily be used against them. Awareness of such consequences can also act as a deterrent against genetic testing, which can be highly effective in preventing, treating, and curing lethal diseases for many people. Given the increasing rate of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other conditions in these past few decades, more people are likely to have genes for these deadly diseases. Therefore, the number of people that would benefit from prevention and/or early treatment as a response to genetic testing is increasing. For people to neglect these opportunities due to fear of discrimination may severely endanger individual and public health, and waste the years of research that have gone into making medical breakthroughs in this field and preparing beneficial options for society. In acknowledgement of the issues surrounding genetic testing, national and state governments have established laws hoping to protect individuals against discrimination and violations of privacy. However, existing laws against genetic discrimination are weak,

offering little protection for individuals in need of genetic testing. The two national laws regarding uses and disclosures of medical data, the 2003 Privacy Rule and the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), both have significant loopholes, including issues relating to range of coverage (many large groups of people excluded), enforcement problems, severity of punishment (for 2003 Privacy Rule, only one monetary punishment was dealt), area of focus, and in short, ineffectiveness. Stronger laws, and perhaps changes to the national healthcare system, need to be made to account for the issues that will develop as genetic testing expands. Genetic testing has significant health related benefits, but has introduced a new form of discrimination into society as well. As more people seek genetic testing for its potential to revolutionize treatment of many life-endangering diseases, and as cost decrease and availability increases, more cases of discrimination based on the precious information encoded in our double helixes are sure to arise. In essence, the advantages should outweigh the disadvantages—if the disadvantages are combated. More effective laws than those existing must be enacted. Genetic testing was meant to be a blessing, but what it becomes will depend on our next generation of scientists, policy makers, and voters.

want to get published in this journal? submit your articles to www.FALCONIUM.ORG

12


GENETIC TESTING: BLESSING OR CURSE?

BY LING JING

ART BY MICHELLE CHEN

G

enes are the sections of DNA that encode every ounce of a human’s physical being. For years, humankind has strived to decode and fully understand these foundations of life, hoping that in them lay the answers to millions of unsolved mysteries: cures to diseases, causes of physical and psychological ailments, perhaps even a how-to-manual on redesigning genes. Yet, as we begin to reap the benefits of genetic knowledge, it often seems we are opening a Pandora’s Box. Since the launching of the Human Genome Project in 1990, it is becoming increasingly apparent that advancements such as genetic testing can be detrimental and act as instigators of discrimination. As genetic testing becomes more affordable, complex, and useful, genetic discrimination may soon become a widespread (and perhaps disastrous) reality. When privacy rights are broken as a result of genetic testing, people’s health coverage, ability to acquire a job, as well as peace of mind may be affected. Privacy has always been an issue in the medical world, especially since the shift to electronic health records. Such new measures for efficiency have taken away the choice of “selective recall,” in which individuals decide what information will be given to health care providers. Concurrently, genetic knowledge has been expanding in the past decade. Progress has been made in understanding complex, environmentally influenced, multiple-gene diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, cardiovascular disease, and an innumerable more. The number of genetic tests available has also grown to beyond 1,500. In addition, Companies such as 23andMe, deCODE genetics, DNA Direct, and GeneDX are also offering marketing complete gene tests that may cost as little as one thousand dollars within a decade. The use of genetic information in even standard healthcare is becoming increasingly common. These recent developments have sparked reasonable concerns for genetic privacy.

11

To illustrate, in April 1999, a woman named Terri Sergeant tested positive for the alpha-1 antitrypsin gene, which is responsible for a disease that severely hinders breathing by stiffening the lungs. When her employer learned of her condition, which requires expensive treatment, she was fired and lost her health insurance. Cases like those of Sergeant reflect the main concerns regarding genetic testing. Individuals fear that knowledge of genetic predispositions can result in embarrassment, discredit, and financial difficulty that cancel out the benefits of genetic testing. Like in the case of Sergeant, insurers could deny health insurance or raise premiums for people with genes for costly disorders. Employers could also reject job-seekers or fire employees based on their genetic information. Individuals who have tested positive for harmful genes may also feel uneasy and stressed—lacking the peace of mind that a society should work to grant to all its members—when applying for jobs, compensation benefits, or obtaining life insurance, due to knowledge that their medical data can easily be used against them. Awareness of such consequences can also act as a deterrent against genetic testing, which can be highly effective in preventing, treating, and curing lethal diseases for many people. Given the increasing rate of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other conditions in these past few decades, more people are likely to have genes for these deadly diseases. Therefore, the number of people that would benefit from prevention and/or early treatment as a response to genetic testing is increasing. For people to neglect these opportunities due to fear of discrimination may severely endanger individual and public health, and waste the years of research that have gone into making medical breakthroughs in this field and preparing beneficial options for society. In acknowledgement of the issues surrounding genetic testing, national and state governments have established laws hoping to protect individuals against discrimination and violations of privacy. However, existing laws against genetic discrimination are weak,

offering little protection for individuals in need of genetic testing. The two national laws regarding uses and disclosures of medical data, the 2003 Privacy Rule and the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), both have significant loopholes, including issues relating to range of coverage (many large groups of people excluded), enforcement problems, severity of punishment (for 2003 Privacy Rule, only one monetary punishment was dealt), area of focus, and in short, ineffectiveness. Stronger laws, and perhaps changes to the national healthcare system, need to be made to account for the issues that will develop as genetic testing expands. Genetic testing has significant health related benefits, but has introduced a new form of discrimination into society as well. As more people seek genetic testing for its potential to revolutionize treatment of many life-endangering diseases, and as cost decrease and availability increases, more cases of discrimination based on the precious information encoded in our double helixes are sure to arise. In essence, the advantages should outweigh the disadvantages—if the disadvantages are combated. More effective laws than those existing must be enacted. Genetic testing was meant to be a blessing, but what it becomes will depend on our next generation of scientists, policy makers, and voters.

want to get published in this journal? submit your articles to www.FALCONIUM.ORG

12


THE

PURPLE TOMATO

BY AMANDA YUAN

GRAPHIC BY OLGA BATALOV

Alterationof ofCorepressor Corepressor SMRT Alteration SMRTin inMice Mice

ORIGINAL RESEARCH

ABSTRACT

GRAPHIC BY OLGA BATALOV

BY CAROLINE YU

Nuclear hormone receptors can repress transcription through their interaction with corepressor complexes, such as silencing mediator of retinoid acid and thyroid hormone receptor (SMRT). SMRT is a corepressor that associates with vitamin A and thyroid hormone receptors. SMRT’s silencing ability can result in a condensed chromatin state that is inhibitory to transcription. Therefore, it is important in regulating thyroid hormone actions such as metabolism, development and differentiation of all cells of the human body. In this study, the effect of SMRT in neonatal mice development using genetically engineered mice whose SMRT gene had been turn off through a gene knockout was analyzed. Based on the data collected, it was found that SRMT seems to play some role in the regulation of thyroid actions, most notably the electrical activity of the heart.

Hypothesis

A

s the demand for health beneficial super foods is on the rise, researchers in the agricultural biotechnology field are working tirelessly to make significant leeway in the production of genetically altered produce. A new age of anti-oxidant enriched tomatoes developed by researchers at the British government-sponsored John Innes Center has sparked consumer attention and has marked the dawn of the purple tomato. Researchers speculate that since these tomatoes are enriched with high levels of anthocyanins – anti-oxidants proven to eliminate harmful oxygen molecules and free radicals in the body – they may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. The development of tomatoes with a boost of anthocyanin provided by snapdragons proves to be a small but promising step for genetically modified foods, but critics argue that these genetic changes are faring to be much more difficult than the industry expected. Those skeptical of this genetic experimentation fear that too much time, money, and space is being put into this “project”. Genetic enhancement often requires the introduction of two or more new genes into the original plant or the insertion of a “transcription factor” that controls the activity of the genes, like it does for the growth of purple tomatoes. Many critics consider these current 13

genetic engineering techniques to be too much of a hassle to continue without proper study because of the potential health risks they pose to crops. However, it is widely agreed that these sacrifices are necessary for advancement in agricultural biotechnology as well as the general benefit of our health and society as a whole. About 282 million acres of land in 23 nations have been devoted to genetically modified crops, and with this advantage researchers have a greater opportunity to develop crops that can resist drought and thrive in poor soil. The resulting increase in produce will not only benefit farmers, but also the consumers at grocery stores buying these health-enriched foods. Developers of the purple tomato reported that this enhanced produce may actually help reduce the recommended number of servings of fruit and vegetable consumption per day from five to one, which is an impressive feat seeing how it is often difficult to fit even two or three fruits and vegetables into our daily diet. Researchers are genetically modifying many other food staples in our daily diets - such as rice, bananas, and vegetable oil - to provide higher levels of healthful omega-3 fatty acids. Foods with increased levels of iron, zinc, and vitamin A have also been researched and experimented with, with hopes of entering production and then being stocked for sales at the nearest grocery store. This means that nutrient boosts found in expensive vitamins and other dietary supplements may soon be found in everyday foods, which in turn will make better nutrition more accessible to all consumers and will allow for more frequent consumption. Purple pizzas, purple tomato sauce, purple ketchup, purple tomato soup, and BLPT (bacon, lettuce, and purple tomato) sandwiches could very well be integrated into health conscious cuisine in the future; so get ready for the future because it is bright – and it is purple.

The early development of the hearts of knockout neonatal mice should be significantly affected due to the overexpression of the thyroid hormone as well as vitamin A. DISCUSSION Results might not be enough to make a solid conclusion because of an insufficient number of trials were performed. However, results seem to indicate that removal of the SMRT gene has a significant negative effect on the development of neonatal mice’s hearts. Based on the electrocardiogram (EKG) results, the general shapes of the EKG diagrams of the Heterozygous (Het) group mice and the Wild type (WT) group mice were very similar. The averages of P wave, PR interval (from the beginning of the P wave to the beginning of the QRS complex), QRS complex, Q, R and S waves (if present) as well as the J point, and T wave from these two groups of mice displayed differed only by 1 or less for all the waves and intervals values except for P_on (1.421 difference), Q_on (2.3649 difference), J (4.523115 difference), and the QT interval (4.3517 interval). However, when compared with Knockout mice (KO), both the shapes of the EKG diagrams and the values of waves and intervals showed significant difference. KO Mouse #8 did not even have a measurable P_on, P_max, P_off, PR ,or Q_on value, which are all supposed to be present in a normal heart beat. This indicated that the mouse has heart dysfunctions, a condition where there is abnormal electrical activity in the heart which may lead to cardiac arrest and sudden death. Although some of the averages of the waves and wave interval values from KO group of mice were relatively similar to that of the average of WT and Het group of mice, the standard deviation value in the KO mice was much bigger (range from 11 to 40 in KO group mice, and 4

to 12 and 3-13 in WT group mice and Het group mice respectively), suggesting that the waves and wave interval values in the KO group were dramatically different from mouse to mouse. For example, in the KO group, mouse #5 had an 8.5 P_on value which much lower than the normal average whereas mouse #12 had a 24.8 P_on value which is much higher than the normal average. This is perhaps due to the over corrections or compensations of insufficient repression of thyroid hormone function through other pathways. Since all 3 KO mice demonstrated abnormal electrical activity in the heart, data proposed that SMRT may play a significant role in the development and functions of the heart in neonatal mice. However, only 3 KO mice were tested, therefore the results were not sufficient to fully support the hypothesis. For the same conditions, compared to the WT group and Het group mice, KO group mice also showed lower weight, decreased glucose levels, and slightly higher lactate acid levels. During the course of experimentation, several assumptions were made. First, it was assumed that different genetic makeup had an insignificant affect on neonatal heart development and functions in comparison to the presence or lack of the SMRT gene. Since mice from 3 different litters of mice were tested, there would have been differences in other genes, not only SMRT. Even for mice born in the same litter, there should be some differences in their genetic makeup, which could also contribute to differences in the electrical activity of the mice’s hearts as well as glucose, lactate and weight. Additionally, different

14


THE

PURPLE TOMATO

BY AMANDA YUAN

GRAPHIC BY OLGA BATALOV

Alterationof ofCorepressor Corepressor SMRT Alteration SMRTin inMice Mice

ORIGINAL RESEARCH

ABSTRACT

GRAPHIC BY OLGA BATALOV

BY CAROLINE YU

Nuclear hormone receptors can repress transcription through their interaction with corepressor complexes, such as silencing mediator of retinoid acid and thyroid hormone receptor (SMRT). SMRT is a corepressor that associates with vitamin A and thyroid hormone receptors. SMRT’s silencing ability can result in a condensed chromatin state that is inhibitory to transcription. Therefore, it is important in regulating thyroid hormone actions such as metabolism, development and differentiation of all cells of the human body. In this study, the effect of SMRT in neonatal mice development using genetically engineered mice whose SMRT gene had been turn off through a gene knockout was analyzed. Based on the data collected, it was found that SRMT seems to play some role in the regulation of thyroid actions, most notably the electrical activity of the heart.

Hypothesis

A

s the demand for health beneficial super foods is on the rise, researchers in the agricultural biotechnology field are working tirelessly to make significant leeway in the production of genetically altered produce. A new age of anti-oxidant enriched tomatoes developed by researchers at the British government-sponsored John Innes Center has sparked consumer attention and has marked the dawn of the purple tomato. Researchers speculate that since these tomatoes are enriched with high levels of anthocyanins – anti-oxidants proven to eliminate harmful oxygen molecules and free radicals in the body – they may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. The development of tomatoes with a boost of anthocyanin provided by snapdragons proves to be a small but promising step for genetically modified foods, but critics argue that these genetic changes are faring to be much more difficult than the industry expected. Those skeptical of this genetic experimentation fear that too much time, money, and space is being put into this “project”. Genetic enhancement often requires the introduction of two or more new genes into the original plant or the insertion of a “transcription factor” that controls the activity of the genes, like it does for the growth of purple tomatoes. Many critics consider these current 13

genetic engineering techniques to be too much of a hassle to continue without proper study because of the potential health risks they pose to crops. However, it is widely agreed that these sacrifices are necessary for advancement in agricultural biotechnology as well as the general benefit of our health and society as a whole. About 282 million acres of land in 23 nations have been devoted to genetically modified crops, and with this advantage researchers have a greater opportunity to develop crops that can resist drought and thrive in poor soil. The resulting increase in produce will not only benefit farmers, but also the consumers at grocery stores buying these health-enriched foods. Developers of the purple tomato reported that this enhanced produce may actually help reduce the recommended number of servings of fruit and vegetable consumption per day from five to one, which is an impressive feat seeing how it is often difficult to fit even two or three fruits and vegetables into our daily diet. Researchers are genetically modifying many other food staples in our daily diets - such as rice, bananas, and vegetable oil - to provide higher levels of healthful omega-3 fatty acids. Foods with increased levels of iron, zinc, and vitamin A have also been researched and experimented with, with hopes of entering production and then being stocked for sales at the nearest grocery store. This means that nutrient boosts found in expensive vitamins and other dietary supplements may soon be found in everyday foods, which in turn will make better nutrition more accessible to all consumers and will allow for more frequent consumption. Purple pizzas, purple tomato sauce, purple ketchup, purple tomato soup, and BLPT (bacon, lettuce, and purple tomato) sandwiches could very well be integrated into health conscious cuisine in the future; so get ready for the future because it is bright – and it is purple.

The early development of the hearts of knockout neonatal mice should be significantly affected due to the overexpression of the thyroid hormone as well as vitamin A. DISCUSSION Results might not be enough to make a solid conclusion because of an insufficient number of trials were performed. However, results seem to indicate that removal of the SMRT gene has a significant negative effect on the development of neonatal mice’s hearts. Based on the electrocardiogram (EKG) results, the general shapes of the EKG diagrams of the Heterozygous (Het) group mice and the Wild type (WT) group mice were very similar. The averages of P wave, PR interval (from the beginning of the P wave to the beginning of the QRS complex), QRS complex, Q, R and S waves (if present) as well as the J point, and T wave from these two groups of mice displayed differed only by 1 or less for all the waves and intervals values except for P_on (1.421 difference), Q_on (2.3649 difference), J (4.523115 difference), and the QT interval (4.3517 interval). However, when compared with Knockout mice (KO), both the shapes of the EKG diagrams and the values of waves and intervals showed significant difference. KO Mouse #8 did not even have a measurable P_on, P_max, P_off, PR ,or Q_on value, which are all supposed to be present in a normal heart beat. This indicated that the mouse has heart dysfunctions, a condition where there is abnormal electrical activity in the heart which may lead to cardiac arrest and sudden death. Although some of the averages of the waves and wave interval values from KO group of mice were relatively similar to that of the average of WT and Het group of mice, the standard deviation value in the KO mice was much bigger (range from 11 to 40 in KO group mice, and 4

to 12 and 3-13 in WT group mice and Het group mice respectively), suggesting that the waves and wave interval values in the KO group were dramatically different from mouse to mouse. For example, in the KO group, mouse #5 had an 8.5 P_on value which much lower than the normal average whereas mouse #12 had a 24.8 P_on value which is much higher than the normal average. This is perhaps due to the over corrections or compensations of insufficient repression of thyroid hormone function through other pathways. Since all 3 KO mice demonstrated abnormal electrical activity in the heart, data proposed that SMRT may play a significant role in the development and functions of the heart in neonatal mice. However, only 3 KO mice were tested, therefore the results were not sufficient to fully support the hypothesis. For the same conditions, compared to the WT group and Het group mice, KO group mice also showed lower weight, decreased glucose levels, and slightly higher lactate acid levels. During the course of experimentation, several assumptions were made. First, it was assumed that different genetic makeup had an insignificant affect on neonatal heart development and functions in comparison to the presence or lack of the SMRT gene. Since mice from 3 different litters of mice were tested, there would have been differences in other genes, not only SMRT. Even for mice born in the same litter, there should be some differences in their genetic makeup, which could also contribute to differences in the electrical activity of the mice’s hearts as well as glucose, lactate and weight. Additionally, different

14


“Since “Since all all 33 KO KO mice mice demonstrated demonstrated abnormal abnormal electrical electrical activity activity in in the the heart, heart, data data proposed proposed that that SMRT SMRT may may play play aa significant significant role role in in the the development and functions of development and functions of the the heart heart in in neonatal neonatal mice.” mice.”

degrees of effectiveness of the SMRT corepressor gene or different degrees of response to the same amount of hormones, causing differences in the electrical activity of the heart, glucose, lactate acid levels and the body weight. If the mices’ different genetic makeup caused significant differences in values, then it would mean results from different mice cannot be compared since other factors besides presence or lack of the SMRT gene also affected EKG data. Although the knockout mice have very different results from the averages from both the heterozygous and the wild type mice, it may be due to other genetic mutations and not necessarily the lack of SMRT. A second assumption made was that differences in the amount mice were fed beforehand by their mothers did not contribute significantly to differences in electrical activities of their hearts. It is known that diet will affect EKG results as different levels of different nutrients may cause variable amounts of electrical activity in the heart. However, the mice tested were not all fed, and even those that were fed were fed differently. Neither mouse #9 and 10 were fed, implying that the mother did not feed them after giving birth to them. Similarly, mouse #11 and 12 were not fed either. However, since Mice#13-15 were all fed, and came from the same litter, it is unknown why the mother did not feed Mouse#11 and 12. Additionally, for the mice that were fed, it was assumed that the milk of their mothers had a similar composition. Otherwise, different levels of specific nutrients will also cause differences in EKG values. However it was assumed that mice would have consistent EKG results despite differences in amount and type of food consumed. A third assumption made was that the other electrical sources present did not affect EKG values. It is known that the Genetic Expressions Laboratory contains a lot of machinery, and that the EKG machine is placed right by electrical wires. If the EKG results were significantly affected by other electrical sources, then all of the values, except the intervals, were too high. Also, since not all of the trials were performed on the

15

same day, different amounts of interference would have been present in EKG data, thus making averages high than they should be. Additionally, the trials performed on the KO mice were performed on two different days, so comparing their EKG values to the average EKG values from all four days for the other two genotypes would be inaccurate, since there would be a different normal range of wave and wave interval values. Additionally, body tremors and shivering will add new electrical signals, which also will be recorded by the EKG machine. Because some mice were struggling, EKG was taken after a period of 5 minutes or more after mice were removed from the heating pad. The heating pad was about 35oC, while room temperature is about 22oC-23 oC. Since there is over a 10 oC difference in temperature, the mice may have been shivering which would have added new electrical signals, thus making the results differ from expected results. Another source of error was that the PCR materials, including dNTP, primers and Taq polymerase, were stored at 4 oC. Ideally, they should be stored at -20oC for maximum stability. However, a small amount was stored in the 4oC for use by the student. This could have affected PCR results as the PCR amplification was not as efficient as it could have been due to degradation of the Taq polymerase enzyme, dNTP, and primers. PCR results would be more blurry and not as clear, making it harder to determine the genotype of the mouse. Since the genotype of the mouse is determined by the location of the bands on the Agarose gel, it may be possible that some mice were given the incorrect genotype, due to the bands not being distinct enough, and possibly being confused with each other. For example, heterozygous mice are supposed to show two bands, located relatively close to each other. However, if the bands were too blurry to see both bands, they may have been given a KO or WT genotype instead. Accuracy of genotyping is also an important improvement in technique that could be made. When electrophoresis gels were analyzed, there was always some smearing of DNA, indicating that the PCR product was not very accurate. In order to increase accuracy, better pipetting skills could be learned. Also, vortexing all materials before use would help to increase accuracy as it ensures the correct amount of the correct concentration of a solution is being used. In addition, a possible problem that occurred during genotyping was not collecting a large enough

portion of tail or ear from the mouse, so that genotyped results did not show up clearly or at all. For future labs, cutting about 1 cm of tail works the best, while a little more then an ear punch of diameter around 0.5 cm is sufficient. Following these measurements have been shown to produce the best results when genotyping. Additional observations made were that mice #11-12 had dark red skin color. Mice #11-12 also both displaced comparatively very high lactate values at 16.5 and 13.1 respectively. Lack of oxygen is the most probably explanation for the dark red skin color, and high lactate values. Mouse #11 had most EKG values greater then the average value for mice of the same genotype, Heterozygous, except for P_on, P_max, and P_off values. Mouse #12 had values that were greater by 10 or more, except for the PR interval, PR segment and QRS interval values (PR interval was greater by 8.223 compared to WT mice average, and 7.521 compared to Het mice average, PR interval was greater by 7.5923 compared to WT mice average and 8.3955 compared to Het mice average, while QRS values differed from WT and Het mice average respectively by 0.1111 and 0.06252). Because both mice that seemed to be suffering from a lack of oxygen and both had higher EKG values, there seems to be a correlation between lack of oxygen and greater electrical activity of the heart. In order to further investigate this possible correlation, EKG’s can be performed on people with similar physical characteristics. By first taking the resting EKG of the group of people, and then recording EKG values after strenuous exercise, the correlation between lack of oxygen and EKG values can be investigated. If after exercise, EKG values increase, then there seems to be a negative correlation between amount of oxygen available and EKG values. Furthermore, it is noted that when mouse #15 was dissected, its brain appeared more red in contrast to the pale pink color of the brains of the other mice. It may have been brain hemorrhaging. However, mouse #15 did not have significantly different values both for lactate and glucose level as well as electrical activity values. This implies that brain hemorrhaging took place after the EKG was performed. A brain hemorrhage would’ve resulted in a huge spike in adrenaline, which would’ve lead to a spike in electrical activity of the heart since the SINOATRIAL node is regulated in part by adrenaline. In order to reconfirm results, a different species of mice could be tested. For this experiment,

only black lab mice were tested. In order to confirm results, performing the same experiment using albino mice should yield similar trends. Normal ranges of electrical activity as well as glucose and lactate levels will differ due to different genetic makeup. However, knockout mice should still display abnormal electrical activity values and glucose levels on the lower end of the normal glucose level range. Future research that can be performed to gain additional information include dissecting the mice and examining their brain, lungs, and other vital organs. The basic physical makeup and shape of the organs should be compared. Since results are inconclusive and it is known that knock out mice typically do not survive past two weeks after birth, it is possible that SMRT is critical for the development of other vital organ(s). Thus, by examining the other organs of the knockout mice and comparing them to the organs of heterozygous and wild type mice, it can be determined whether SMRT significantly affects the development of any other organ(s).

16


“Since “Since all all 33 KO KO mice mice demonstrated demonstrated abnormal abnormal electrical electrical activity activity in in the the heart, heart, data data proposed proposed that that SMRT SMRT may may play play aa significant significant role role in in the the development and functions of development and functions of the the heart heart in in neonatal neonatal mice.” mice.”

degrees of effectiveness of the SMRT corepressor gene or different degrees of response to the same amount of hormones, causing differences in the electrical activity of the heart, glucose, lactate acid levels and the body weight. If the mices’ different genetic makeup caused significant differences in values, then it would mean results from different mice cannot be compared since other factors besides presence or lack of the SMRT gene also affected EKG data. Although the knockout mice have very different results from the averages from both the heterozygous and the wild type mice, it may be due to other genetic mutations and not necessarily the lack of SMRT. A second assumption made was that differences in the amount mice were fed beforehand by their mothers did not contribute significantly to differences in electrical activities of their hearts. It is known that diet will affect EKG results as different levels of different nutrients may cause variable amounts of electrical activity in the heart. However, the mice tested were not all fed, and even those that were fed were fed differently. Neither mouse #9 and 10 were fed, implying that the mother did not feed them after giving birth to them. Similarly, mouse #11 and 12 were not fed either. However, since Mice#13-15 were all fed, and came from the same litter, it is unknown why the mother did not feed Mouse#11 and 12. Additionally, for the mice that were fed, it was assumed that the milk of their mothers had a similar composition. Otherwise, different levels of specific nutrients will also cause differences in EKG values. However it was assumed that mice would have consistent EKG results despite differences in amount and type of food consumed. A third assumption made was that the other electrical sources present did not affect EKG values. It is known that the Genetic Expressions Laboratory contains a lot of machinery, and that the EKG machine is placed right by electrical wires. If the EKG results were significantly affected by other electrical sources, then all of the values, except the intervals, were too high. Also, since not all of the trials were performed on the

15

same day, different amounts of interference would have been present in EKG data, thus making averages high than they should be. Additionally, the trials performed on the KO mice were performed on two different days, so comparing their EKG values to the average EKG values from all four days for the other two genotypes would be inaccurate, since there would be a different normal range of wave and wave interval values. Additionally, body tremors and shivering will add new electrical signals, which also will be recorded by the EKG machine. Because some mice were struggling, EKG was taken after a period of 5 minutes or more after mice were removed from the heating pad. The heating pad was about 35oC, while room temperature is about 22oC-23 oC. Since there is over a 10 oC difference in temperature, the mice may have been shivering which would have added new electrical signals, thus making the results differ from expected results. Another source of error was that the PCR materials, including dNTP, primers and Taq polymerase, were stored at 4 oC. Ideally, they should be stored at -20oC for maximum stability. However, a small amount was stored in the 4oC for use by the student. This could have affected PCR results as the PCR amplification was not as efficient as it could have been due to degradation of the Taq polymerase enzyme, dNTP, and primers. PCR results would be more blurry and not as clear, making it harder to determine the genotype of the mouse. Since the genotype of the mouse is determined by the location of the bands on the Agarose gel, it may be possible that some mice were given the incorrect genotype, due to the bands not being distinct enough, and possibly being confused with each other. For example, heterozygous mice are supposed to show two bands, located relatively close to each other. However, if the bands were too blurry to see both bands, they may have been given a KO or WT genotype instead. Accuracy of genotyping is also an important improvement in technique that could be made. When electrophoresis gels were analyzed, there was always some smearing of DNA, indicating that the PCR product was not very accurate. In order to increase accuracy, better pipetting skills could be learned. Also, vortexing all materials before use would help to increase accuracy as it ensures the correct amount of the correct concentration of a solution is being used. In addition, a possible problem that occurred during genotyping was not collecting a large enough

portion of tail or ear from the mouse, so that genotyped results did not show up clearly or at all. For future labs, cutting about 1 cm of tail works the best, while a little more then an ear punch of diameter around 0.5 cm is sufficient. Following these measurements have been shown to produce the best results when genotyping. Additional observations made were that mice #11-12 had dark red skin color. Mice #11-12 also both displaced comparatively very high lactate values at 16.5 and 13.1 respectively. Lack of oxygen is the most probably explanation for the dark red skin color, and high lactate values. Mouse #11 had most EKG values greater then the average value for mice of the same genotype, Heterozygous, except for P_on, P_max, and P_off values. Mouse #12 had values that were greater by 10 or more, except for the PR interval, PR segment and QRS interval values (PR interval was greater by 8.223 compared to WT mice average, and 7.521 compared to Het mice average, PR interval was greater by 7.5923 compared to WT mice average and 8.3955 compared to Het mice average, while QRS values differed from WT and Het mice average respectively by 0.1111 and 0.06252). Because both mice that seemed to be suffering from a lack of oxygen and both had higher EKG values, there seems to be a correlation between lack of oxygen and greater electrical activity of the heart. In order to further investigate this possible correlation, EKG’s can be performed on people with similar physical characteristics. By first taking the resting EKG of the group of people, and then recording EKG values after strenuous exercise, the correlation between lack of oxygen and EKG values can be investigated. If after exercise, EKG values increase, then there seems to be a negative correlation between amount of oxygen available and EKG values. Furthermore, it is noted that when mouse #15 was dissected, its brain appeared more red in contrast to the pale pink color of the brains of the other mice. It may have been brain hemorrhaging. However, mouse #15 did not have significantly different values both for lactate and glucose level as well as electrical activity values. This implies that brain hemorrhaging took place after the EKG was performed. A brain hemorrhage would’ve resulted in a huge spike in adrenaline, which would’ve lead to a spike in electrical activity of the heart since the SINOATRIAL node is regulated in part by adrenaline. In order to reconfirm results, a different species of mice could be tested. For this experiment,

only black lab mice were tested. In order to confirm results, performing the same experiment using albino mice should yield similar trends. Normal ranges of electrical activity as well as glucose and lactate levels will differ due to different genetic makeup. However, knockout mice should still display abnormal electrical activity values and glucose levels on the lower end of the normal glucose level range. Future research that can be performed to gain additional information include dissecting the mice and examining their brain, lungs, and other vital organs. The basic physical makeup and shape of the organs should be compared. Since results are inconclusive and it is known that knock out mice typically do not survive past two weeks after birth, it is possible that SMRT is critical for the development of other vital organ(s). Thus, by examining the other organs of the knockout mice and comparing them to the organs of heterozygous and wild type mice, it can be determined whether SMRT significantly affects the development of any other organ(s).

16


THE WOOLY MAMMOTH RETURNS

BY SARA SHU

GRAPHIC BY OLGA BATALOV PHOTO BY AMANDA YUAN

A

once unimaginable future, a feat possible only in science fiction, is now being fulfilled by scientists today. The woolly mammoth, a hairy prehistoric version of the elephant and about 8 to 14 feet tall, became extinct around 10,000 years ago. Scientists have recently deciphered the genetic code of the woolly mammoth and are now claiming to be able to recreate the long extinct mammal in a couple of decades. In 2005, Pennsylvania State University State College, genomicist Stephan Schuster discovered that mammoths were closely related to African elephants because their ancestors split nearly 6 million years ago. Fascinated by his discovery, Schuster went on to decipher the nuclear genome. Schuster and his team sequenced the mammoth’s nuclear genome using DNA extracted from the hair of a mammoth preserved in the Siberian permafrost for 20,000 years [3]. According to Schuster, “using hair is an excellent source of ancient DNA because it is less likely to contain bacteria or fungi than DNA extracted from porous bone”. The million dollar project, using advanced genome sequencing techniques, has so far sequenced more than 3.3 billion base pairs of the mammoth’s DNA. “Our data set is 100 times more extensive than any other published data set

17

for an extinct species, demonstrating that ancient DNA studies can be brought up to the same level as modern genome projects”, says Schuster. And the study is only 80 percent complete! Upon analyzing the sequenced nuclear DNA, the scientists confirmed the split of mammoths from elephants and that there were also two species of woolly mammoths in Siberia. They also found that woolly mammoths have less genetic diversity than primates which made them more prone to extinction. Other discoveries include genetic mutations that helped the mammoths survive in the harsh climate of the arctic and probably also contributed to their extinction when the climate warmed about 12,000 years ago. Now that a large quantity of information is available, scientists are looking into the genome of the mammoth for clues about its extinction. Furthermore, Schuster stated that “by deciphering this genome we could, in theory, generate data that one day may help other researchers to bring the woolly mammoth back to life by inserting the uniquely mammoth DNA sequences into the genome of the modern-day elephant. This would allow scientists to retrieve the genetic information that was believed to have been lost when the mammoth died out, as well as to bring back an extinct species that modern humans have missed meeting by only a few thousand years.” There are several ways to use this newfound genetic map and both involve the complex task of creating a mammoth embryo and implanting it into its elephant cousin. Both methods are very difficult since the mammoth DNA is not suitable for cloning. The first method calls for a genetically engineered elephant cell that matches the DNA code of a mammoth. The second method uses synthetic biology to create a mammoth cell essentially from scratch. Another method would be to create a hybrid using DNA of the woolly mammoth with its close relative, the African elephant. Who knows? One day people might be able to see the revived woolly-mammoth at the zoo!

Why Kids With ADHD Have All

Brains

In the fast-paced, dog-eat-dog world we live in today, some people will do almost anything to get an edge on their competition. When a drug is discovered to not only get you high, but also get you higher grades, there is bound to be immense reaction from the public. These “brain-boosting” drugs are the prescription stimulants used as treatment for children with ADHD, but are also frequently being used (illegally) by college students hoping to raise their GPA. While most people agree that taking drugs “to get high” is bad, there is still plenty debate over whether it should be acceptable to take performance enhancing drugs for school. The pills, Ritalin and Adderall, over which much of this debate is about are prescription medications approved to treat children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The active ingredient in these medications is a substance called methylphenidate hydrochloride, a stimulant. Although it may sound counterintuitive to give stimulants to hyperactive children, the stimulants in these medications have the opposite effectthey calm down children by giving them better concentration. Children with ADHD are under active in regions of the brain that play major roles in controlling attention and behavior, the prefrontal cortex and basal

the

BY NOOR AL-ALUSI

PHOTOS BY AMANDA YUAN ART BY LING JING ganglia regions of the frontal cortex of the brain, and medications like Ritalin and Adderall improve function in these regions by increasing the activity of chemicals called dopamine and noradrenaline. Dr. Chandan Vaidya, Georgetown Assistant Professor of Psychology, and her students in the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Lab (DCNL) verified this using a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) machine to detect brain activity in children with ADHD. By comparing the test results during the peak effectiveness of the ADHD treatment (in this case Ritalin) and the results after the medication is out of the child’s system, Dr. Vaidya confirmed the effectiveness of methylphenidate hydrochloride. Methylphenidate hydrochloride has also been proven to have an interesting effect on people without ADHD. People without ADHD who have taken Ritalin or Adderall have reported that these drugs heighten their attentiveness, allow better concentration, aid in short-term memory, increase alertness and activity, and improve their overall mental performance. It is for this very reason that a quarter of college students have taken these “cognitiveenhancers”, without a prescription. In addition, 90 percent of those students said they used the drugs for academic

18


THE WOOLY MAMMOTH RETURNS

BY SARA SHU

GRAPHIC BY OLGA BATALOV PHOTO BY AMANDA YUAN

A

once unimaginable future, a feat possible only in science fiction, is now being fulfilled by scientists today. The woolly mammoth, a hairy prehistoric version of the elephant and about 8 to 14 feet tall, became extinct around 10,000 years ago. Scientists have recently deciphered the genetic code of the woolly mammoth and are now claiming to be able to recreate the long extinct mammal in a couple of decades. In 2005, Pennsylvania State University State College, genomicist Stephan Schuster discovered that mammoths were closely related to African elephants because their ancestors split nearly 6 million years ago. Fascinated by his discovery, Schuster went on to decipher the nuclear genome. Schuster and his team sequenced the mammoth’s nuclear genome using DNA extracted from the hair of a mammoth preserved in the Siberian permafrost for 20,000 years [3]. According to Schuster, “using hair is an excellent source of ancient DNA because it is less likely to contain bacteria or fungi than DNA extracted from porous bone”. The million dollar project, using advanced genome sequencing techniques, has so far sequenced more than 3.3 billion base pairs of the mammoth’s DNA. “Our data set is 100 times more extensive than any other published data set

17

for an extinct species, demonstrating that ancient DNA studies can be brought up to the same level as modern genome projects”, says Schuster. And the study is only 80 percent complete! Upon analyzing the sequenced nuclear DNA, the scientists confirmed the split of mammoths from elephants and that there were also two species of woolly mammoths in Siberia. They also found that woolly mammoths have less genetic diversity than primates which made them more prone to extinction. Other discoveries include genetic mutations that helped the mammoths survive in the harsh climate of the arctic and probably also contributed to their extinction when the climate warmed about 12,000 years ago. Now that a large quantity of information is available, scientists are looking into the genome of the mammoth for clues about its extinction. Furthermore, Schuster stated that “by deciphering this genome we could, in theory, generate data that one day may help other researchers to bring the woolly mammoth back to life by inserting the uniquely mammoth DNA sequences into the genome of the modern-day elephant. This would allow scientists to retrieve the genetic information that was believed to have been lost when the mammoth died out, as well as to bring back an extinct species that modern humans have missed meeting by only a few thousand years.” There are several ways to use this newfound genetic map and both involve the complex task of creating a mammoth embryo and implanting it into its elephant cousin. Both methods are very difficult since the mammoth DNA is not suitable for cloning. The first method calls for a genetically engineered elephant cell that matches the DNA code of a mammoth. The second method uses synthetic biology to create a mammoth cell essentially from scratch. Another method would be to create a hybrid using DNA of the woolly mammoth with its close relative, the African elephant. Who knows? One day people might be able to see the revived woolly-mammoth at the zoo!

Why Kids With ADHD Have All

Brains

In the fast-paced, dog-eat-dog world we live in today, some people will do almost anything to get an edge on their competition. When a drug is discovered to not only get you high, but also get you higher grades, there is bound to be immense reaction from the public. These “brain-boosting” drugs are the prescription stimulants used as treatment for children with ADHD, but are also frequently being used (illegally) by college students hoping to raise their GPA. While most people agree that taking drugs “to get high” is bad, there is still plenty debate over whether it should be acceptable to take performance enhancing drugs for school. The pills, Ritalin and Adderall, over which much of this debate is about are prescription medications approved to treat children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The active ingredient in these medications is a substance called methylphenidate hydrochloride, a stimulant. Although it may sound counterintuitive to give stimulants to hyperactive children, the stimulants in these medications have the opposite effectthey calm down children by giving them better concentration. Children with ADHD are under active in regions of the brain that play major roles in controlling attention and behavior, the prefrontal cortex and basal

the

BY NOOR AL-ALUSI

PHOTOS BY AMANDA YUAN ART BY LING JING ganglia regions of the frontal cortex of the brain, and medications like Ritalin and Adderall improve function in these regions by increasing the activity of chemicals called dopamine and noradrenaline. Dr. Chandan Vaidya, Georgetown Assistant Professor of Psychology, and her students in the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Lab (DCNL) verified this using a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) machine to detect brain activity in children with ADHD. By comparing the test results during the peak effectiveness of the ADHD treatment (in this case Ritalin) and the results after the medication is out of the child’s system, Dr. Vaidya confirmed the effectiveness of methylphenidate hydrochloride. Methylphenidate hydrochloride has also been proven to have an interesting effect on people without ADHD. People without ADHD who have taken Ritalin or Adderall have reported that these drugs heighten their attentiveness, allow better concentration, aid in short-term memory, increase alertness and activity, and improve their overall mental performance. It is for this very reason that a quarter of college students have taken these “cognitiveenhancers”, without a prescription. In addition, 90 percent of those students said they used the drugs for academic

18


uses instead of to simply “get high”. Do these drugs actually work or are these effects just a coincidence? Martha Farah, director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania testifies the effectiveness of these brain-boosting drugs by saying, “It does work. We know that from lab studies. Obviously they help people with ADHD, but for many, if not all, normal people, they also enhance attention.” So instead of studying for my midterm for two hours, I can just pop a pill, hit the books for thirty minutes, and then get an even better grade than I would otherwise? Awesome, what could be the harm in that? Actually, there are several harms. First of all, since Ritalin and Adderall are stimulant drugs, like methamphetamine, ecstasy, cocaine, nicotine, and caffeine they also carry the same risk of addiction, not to mention their use is also illegal without a prescription. Second, they might also yield short-term side effects such as loss of appetite, sleeping difficulty and possible long-term side effects including cardiovascular complications. There are also a number of negative social implications that could result from the widespread use of these drugs. Since drugs are costly, would providing them to those who can afford it be putting the financially challenged at an unfair disadvantage? For years we have been trying to provide equal opportunities to people of different economic status. Would the legal distribution of these drugs disrupt this endeavor? Some argue yes, however many would contend otherwise. Ed Silverman, primary author of the Pharmalot webpage, writes, “Boosting the brain…is no more morally objectionable than using nutrition and exercise to eat right or get a good night’s sleep.” Professor Trevor Robbins, of the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Cambridge, adds, “No one minds very much about people taking vitamins to make them do a little bit better.”

19

Another major reason for the rejection of these stimulants is the concern that people, such as military personnel or children, might be coerced into taking these drugs. In the past, pilots have been encouraged-some might say forced- to take certain pills to stay awake (“go pills”) and to induce sleep (“no-go pills”). The legalization of drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall could escalate this dilemma. Also, with sky-rocketing competition in college admission, overbearing parents might force their kids into taking stimulants to raise their GPA or supplement their SAT scores. But that’s okay, it’s all in the name of healthy competition, right? Well, not quite. Even with the purest intentions, taking these drugs repeatedly can lead to cyclic dependency on drugs leading to obvious harms. Even with all the potential harms of these drugs, many scientists still believe their legalization would ultimately result in society’s benefit. Commentators on a science journal entitled “Nature” believe that, “We should welcome new methods of improving our brain function. In a world in which human workspans and lifespans are increasing, cognitive enhancement tools - including the pharmacological - will be increasingly useful for improved quality of life and extended work productivity, as well as to stave off normal and pathological age-related cognitive declines. Safe and effective cognitive enhancers will benefit both the individual and society.” There are pros and cons. As of now these stimulants are illegal for anything besides ADHD treatment (so if you don’t have ADHD, you should not be using them), but debate about its general use is still ongoing: should drugs like Adderall and Ritalin become available for general use?

PRINTING OF THE FUTURE

Imagine a world virtually free of all cancers and organ failures,

where war victims could regain their lost limbs instead of using awkward prosthetics, and where burn victims could replace their skin without skin grafts donations. It may sound more like science fiction today, but such a world may be in the near future, thanks to the development of a new technology called organ printing. This innovation, through utilizing the basic technologies of the ink printer, literally prints organs configured to the DNA of the ailing person. Using a simple ink printer that has BY STANLEY LIU been modified to print in three dimensions, the ART BY CATHERINE LI recipient’s cells are slowly added on to a gel in a Petri dish layer by layer to form the shape of the organ or tissue. Because the new organ composes of the receiver’s own cells and perfectly matches in genetic makeup, the possibility of the receiver’s body rejecting the organ is excluded. Moreover, it also virtually eliminates the inconvenience of the long wait that comes with a donor list. Organ printing has already proven successful in heart transplants trials in mice. With humans, however, there are some complications. For instance, scientists do not know how to keep the inner cells of an organ alive when printing large human organs, a problem not present in the previous trials with mice. The maximum thickness that the scientists are currently capable of printing, in order for the cells inside the organ to obtain nutrients, is only two inches. Though it may be half a century before organ printing is used everyday to save human lives, the sheer fact that this technology is becoming available is greatly promising. At the least, it could still be used to save small endangered species or any injured small animal. Organ printing may one day have the capability to revolutionize the future of healthcare. Its effects would equal those of a panacea, significantly diminishing, and perhaps even eradicating, the risks of many life-threatening conditions. With the potential of replacing deteriorating body parts, organ printing could lead to a longer average lifespan for people, and perhaps even be the first step towards attaining immortality.

20


uses instead of to simply “get high”. Do these drugs actually work or are these effects just a coincidence? Martha Farah, director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania testifies the effectiveness of these brain-boosting drugs by saying, “It does work. We know that from lab studies. Obviously they help people with ADHD, but for many, if not all, normal people, they also enhance attention.” So instead of studying for my midterm for two hours, I can just pop a pill, hit the books for thirty minutes, and then get an even better grade than I would otherwise? Awesome, what could be the harm in that? Actually, there are several harms. First of all, since Ritalin and Adderall are stimulant drugs, like methamphetamine, ecstasy, cocaine, nicotine, and caffeine they also carry the same risk of addiction, not to mention their use is also illegal without a prescription. Second, they might also yield short-term side effects such as loss of appetite, sleeping difficulty and possible long-term side effects including cardiovascular complications. There are also a number of negative social implications that could result from the widespread use of these drugs. Since drugs are costly, would providing them to those who can afford it be putting the financially challenged at an unfair disadvantage? For years we have been trying to provide equal opportunities to people of different economic status. Would the legal distribution of these drugs disrupt this endeavor? Some argue yes, however many would contend otherwise. Ed Silverman, primary author of the Pharmalot webpage, writes, “Boosting the brain…is no more morally objectionable than using nutrition and exercise to eat right or get a good night’s sleep.” Professor Trevor Robbins, of the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Cambridge, adds, “No one minds very much about people taking vitamins to make them do a little bit better.”

19

Another major reason for the rejection of these stimulants is the concern that people, such as military personnel or children, might be coerced into taking these drugs. In the past, pilots have been encouraged-some might say forced- to take certain pills to stay awake (“go pills”) and to induce sleep (“no-go pills”). The legalization of drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall could escalate this dilemma. Also, with sky-rocketing competition in college admission, overbearing parents might force their kids into taking stimulants to raise their GPA or supplement their SAT scores. But that’s okay, it’s all in the name of healthy competition, right? Well, not quite. Even with the purest intentions, taking these drugs repeatedly can lead to cyclic dependency on drugs leading to obvious harms. Even with all the potential harms of these drugs, many scientists still believe their legalization would ultimately result in society’s benefit. Commentators on a science journal entitled “Nature” believe that, “We should welcome new methods of improving our brain function. In a world in which human workspans and lifespans are increasing, cognitive enhancement tools - including the pharmacological - will be increasingly useful for improved quality of life and extended work productivity, as well as to stave off normal and pathological age-related cognitive declines. Safe and effective cognitive enhancers will benefit both the individual and society.” There are pros and cons. As of now these stimulants are illegal for anything besides ADHD treatment (so if you don’t have ADHD, you should not be using them), but debate about its general use is still ongoing: should drugs like Adderall and Ritalin become available for general use?

PRINTING OF THE FUTURE

Imagine a world virtually free of all cancers and organ failures,

where war victims could regain their lost limbs instead of using awkward prosthetics, and where burn victims could replace their skin without skin grafts donations. It may sound more like science fiction today, but such a world may be in the near future, thanks to the development of a new technology called organ printing. This innovation, through utilizing the basic technologies of the ink printer, literally prints organs configured to the DNA of the ailing person. Using a simple ink printer that has BY STANLEY LIU been modified to print in three dimensions, the ART BY CATHERINE LI recipient’s cells are slowly added on to a gel in a Petri dish layer by layer to form the shape of the organ or tissue. Because the new organ composes of the receiver’s own cells and perfectly matches in genetic makeup, the possibility of the receiver’s body rejecting the organ is excluded. Moreover, it also virtually eliminates the inconvenience of the long wait that comes with a donor list. Organ printing has already proven successful in heart transplants trials in mice. With humans, however, there are some complications. For instance, scientists do not know how to keep the inner cells of an organ alive when printing large human organs, a problem not present in the previous trials with mice. The maximum thickness that the scientists are currently capable of printing, in order for the cells inside the organ to obtain nutrients, is only two inches. Though it may be half a century before organ printing is used everyday to save human lives, the sheer fact that this technology is becoming available is greatly promising. At the least, it could still be used to save small endangered species or any injured small animal. Organ printing may one day have the capability to revolutionize the future of healthcare. Its effects would equal those of a panacea, significantly diminishing, and perhaps even eradicating, the risks of many life-threatening conditions. With the potential of replacing deteriorating body parts, organ printing could lead to a longer average lifespan for people, and perhaps even be the first step towards attaining immortality.

20


OPINION: STEM CELL RESEARCH

PRO

BY CONNIE LIU

Since the discovery of stem cell research nearly a decade ago, controversy has erupted across the globe about the morality of the situation at hand. To create these stem cells that would have the potential to cure seemingly incurable diseases, it would be vital to draw unborn embryos. Research still needs to be performed on this new world cure-all, but is it worth the sacrifice of unborn babies to follow the line of investigation? Though deep controversy has sprouted up about this topic, it can be asserted that such research is perfectly moral. Hundreds of abortions are performed every week, so instead of discarding the unwanted embryo, it is completely practical to instead use them to better benefit the rest of the world. Additionally, if the right to abortion is approved of and is held as morally correct by many, there is no question that stem cell research should go on too. As the right to abortion is already in place within our society, we must take advantage of this right, and get the most out of what we have, which is primarily achieved through stem cell research. The benefits of stem cell therapy are beyond any we have today and must be cherished as a gift and built upon instead of thrown away like useless trash. This pursuit has the potential to cure cancer or to replace damaged limbs, and in turn gives these otherwise doomed embryos a chance to make a world of difference. Although a sacrifice might be made, the cost-benefit analysis points out that stem cell research is a worthy endeavor. Our devotion should be unwaveringly allocated to those already alive. These people with terminal illnesses are suffering after paying their due and benefiting the world. Their life has begun undeniably and we cannot take this away from them without the least effort to save their dying spirit and body. We cannot stand idle on the sidelines as people die every day and families and friends are crushed by

21

the shattering news. The impact a living, breathing, walking person has had on the world around him or her is enough to pursue this research in order to preserve this entity and all influenced by it to live another carefree, joyful day on planet Earth. The sacrifice of a few unused embryos that would likewise be discarded of is a small price to pay to avoid this intense trauma and ruthless murder through inaction of a helpless human being. Additionally, human embryos would only be used presently to jumpstart human knowledge of stem cell research. Studies already indicated that stem cells have been found in our bone marrow. It has been proven that bone marrow transplants are virtually harmless and with enough research and funding, we may advance into a world where those who are currently doomed to die may have a second chance. Over 100 million Americans suffer from diseases that would be guaranteed to be treated more effectively or even all together cured by stem cell therapy. We must pursue this golden chance in order to save those from the mortification of a terminal friend or family member. Once scientists are able to use this alternative form of stem cells, the moral controversy surrounding this issue may as well evaporate. Scientists should be encouraged to pursue stem cell research to help those in dire need of the technology. This could easily be our first viable cancer treatment, and this would greatly benefit the millions around the world. The futuristic idea of regeneration of limbs will become plausible in a world undergoing a need for such research. This stem cell technology has the potential to cure the world and get one step closer to making our bodies virtually immune to all viruses and bacteria. The numbing shock of finding a family member or friend to be inflicted with a life-threatening disease can be the most devastating feeling in the world. We must prevent such a catastrophe and continue our research to make applications of stem cell technology ubiquitous.

con

PHOTOS BY AMANDA YUAN BY MARCI ROSENBERG

Embryonic stem cells are cells that have been removed from the blastocyst, the inner cell mass of a developing embryo. Scientists have been using such embryonic stem cells in their research under the pretense that they hold potential cures for an infinite variety of severely debilitating diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, diabetes, cancer, and many more. There is no question that embryonic stem cell research could potentially further scientific knowledge, but there are harrowing questions of its ethics and usefulness in light of other venues of research, in modern-day society. Would it be morally ethical to arbitrarily, without consent, kill someone who is afflicted with Type 1 diabetes in order to learn more about the effects of the disease on the body? The answer would be a resounding no. The scientific society accepts that it is not okay to end this diabetic’s life in order to satisfy their curiosity, or even more nobly, their hope for a cure. Just because a method exists doesn’t mean the method should be used. Society could, this very instant, kill Magic Johnson in order to (hopefully) discover his body’s secret behind his unbelievable long-term survival in the face of the HIV virus. If his secret was discovered, it could help millions of people in unimaginable ways. However, there is a pervading sense of conscience that holds society back from pursuing such a heinous deed. When a scientific researcher decides to put a sperm and egg cell together, he creates the beginnings of life—it is undeniable. When that same scientific researcher removed the stem cells of this innocent life, they murdered a life that never consented to its destruction, a life that may have grown up and cured cancer, solved the energy crisis, saved the world. There have been constant arguments over the definition of what qualifies as “life.” It is, however,

repetitive and tiresome to snipe back and forth over the “definition” of life. Could an apple seed grow into anything other than an apple? Could a baby shark grow into anything other than a shark? The beginnings of life was created when a sperm and egg cell were put together, and if left unattended in normal circumstances, this sperm and egg cell would grow into a beautiful, rosy-cheeked baby boy or girl. If at any point after the sperm and egg cell have been united, that mass of cells is destroyed, the beginning of a life is destroyed as well. However, the debate over the definition of what qualifies as life can get, understandably, controversial. There’s a way to skirt this controversy altogether: adult stem cells. In fact, embryonic stem cells, to this day, have produced no cures for any of the debilitating disease that they are supposed to be fixing and eradicating left and right. There was so much hype over embryonic stem cell research but there have been no results. Even if there were no severe ethical qualms, why should the government continue to fund a venue of research that has produced nothing that’s useable for society? Adult stem cells, on the other hand, have already been used to successfully cure many awful diseases. For example, adult stems cells have already been successfully used to help patients with cardiac infarction, death of some of the heart tissue. In light of the fact that embryonic stem cell research has serious moral qualms, has produced no results, and is eclipsed by a far better alternative that is controversy-free, it seems the decision is clear. Embryonic stem cell research is unethical, unhelpful, and has stirred too many passionate fights that have ended with friendships broken, partnerships lost. It is time for a change.

22


OPINION: STEM CELL RESEARCH

PRO

BY CONNIE LIU

Since the discovery of stem cell research nearly a decade ago, controversy has erupted across the globe about the morality of the situation at hand. To create these stem cells that would have the potential to cure seemingly incurable diseases, it would be vital to draw unborn embryos. Research still needs to be performed on this new world cure-all, but is it worth the sacrifice of unborn babies to follow the line of investigation? Though deep controversy has sprouted up about this topic, it can be asserted that such research is perfectly moral. Hundreds of abortions are performed every week, so instead of discarding the unwanted embryo, it is completely practical to instead use them to better benefit the rest of the world. Additionally, if the right to abortion is approved of and is held as morally correct by many, there is no question that stem cell research should go on too. As the right to abortion is already in place within our society, we must take advantage of this right, and get the most out of what we have, which is primarily achieved through stem cell research. The benefits of stem cell therapy are beyond any we have today and must be cherished as a gift and built upon instead of thrown away like useless trash. This pursuit has the potential to cure cancer or to replace damaged limbs, and in turn gives these otherwise doomed embryos a chance to make a world of difference. Although a sacrifice might be made, the cost-benefit analysis points out that stem cell research is a worthy endeavor. Our devotion should be unwaveringly allocated to those already alive. These people with terminal illnesses are suffering after paying their due and benefiting the world. Their life has begun undeniably and we cannot take this away from them without the least effort to save their dying spirit and body. We cannot stand idle on the sidelines as people die every day and families and friends are crushed by

21

the shattering news. The impact a living, breathing, walking person has had on the world around him or her is enough to pursue this research in order to preserve this entity and all influenced by it to live another carefree, joyful day on planet Earth. The sacrifice of a few unused embryos that would likewise be discarded of is a small price to pay to avoid this intense trauma and ruthless murder through inaction of a helpless human being. Additionally, human embryos would only be used presently to jumpstart human knowledge of stem cell research. Studies already indicated that stem cells have been found in our bone marrow. It has been proven that bone marrow transplants are virtually harmless and with enough research and funding, we may advance into a world where those who are currently doomed to die may have a second chance. Over 100 million Americans suffer from diseases that would be guaranteed to be treated more effectively or even all together cured by stem cell therapy. We must pursue this golden chance in order to save those from the mortification of a terminal friend or family member. Once scientists are able to use this alternative form of stem cells, the moral controversy surrounding this issue may as well evaporate. Scientists should be encouraged to pursue stem cell research to help those in dire need of the technology. This could easily be our first viable cancer treatment, and this would greatly benefit the millions around the world. The futuristic idea of regeneration of limbs will become plausible in a world undergoing a need for such research. This stem cell technology has the potential to cure the world and get one step closer to making our bodies virtually immune to all viruses and bacteria. The numbing shock of finding a family member or friend to be inflicted with a life-threatening disease can be the most devastating feeling in the world. We must prevent such a catastrophe and continue our research to make applications of stem cell technology ubiquitous.

con

PHOTOS BY AMANDA YUAN BY MARCI ROSENBERG

Embryonic stem cells are cells that have been removed from the blastocyst, the inner cell mass of a developing embryo. Scientists have been using such embryonic stem cells in their research under the pretense that they hold potential cures for an infinite variety of severely debilitating diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, diabetes, cancer, and many more. There is no question that embryonic stem cell research could potentially further scientific knowledge, but there are harrowing questions of its ethics and usefulness in light of other venues of research, in modern-day society. Would it be morally ethical to arbitrarily, without consent, kill someone who is afflicted with Type 1 diabetes in order to learn more about the effects of the disease on the body? The answer would be a resounding no. The scientific society accepts that it is not okay to end this diabetic’s life in order to satisfy their curiosity, or even more nobly, their hope for a cure. Just because a method exists doesn’t mean the method should be used. Society could, this very instant, kill Magic Johnson in order to (hopefully) discover his body’s secret behind his unbelievable long-term survival in the face of the HIV virus. If his secret was discovered, it could help millions of people in unimaginable ways. However, there is a pervading sense of conscience that holds society back from pursuing such a heinous deed. When a scientific researcher decides to put a sperm and egg cell together, he creates the beginnings of life—it is undeniable. When that same scientific researcher removed the stem cells of this innocent life, they murdered a life that never consented to its destruction, a life that may have grown up and cured cancer, solved the energy crisis, saved the world. There have been constant arguments over the definition of what qualifies as “life.” It is, however,

repetitive and tiresome to snipe back and forth over the “definition” of life. Could an apple seed grow into anything other than an apple? Could a baby shark grow into anything other than a shark? The beginnings of life was created when a sperm and egg cell were put together, and if left unattended in normal circumstances, this sperm and egg cell would grow into a beautiful, rosy-cheeked baby boy or girl. If at any point after the sperm and egg cell have been united, that mass of cells is destroyed, the beginning of a life is destroyed as well. However, the debate over the definition of what qualifies as life can get, understandably, controversial. There’s a way to skirt this controversy altogether: adult stem cells. In fact, embryonic stem cells, to this day, have produced no cures for any of the debilitating disease that they are supposed to be fixing and eradicating left and right. There was so much hype over embryonic stem cell research but there have been no results. Even if there were no severe ethical qualms, why should the government continue to fund a venue of research that has produced nothing that’s useable for society? Adult stem cells, on the other hand, have already been used to successfully cure many awful diseases. For example, adult stems cells have already been successfully used to help patients with cardiac infarction, death of some of the heart tissue. In light of the fact that embryonic stem cell research has serious moral qualms, has produced no results, and is eclipsed by a far better alternative that is controversy-free, it seems the decision is clear. Embryonic stem cell research is unethical, unhelpful, and has stirred too many passionate fights that have ended with friendships broken, partnerships lost. It is time for a change.

22


The New Crash Course in Physics

23

How was the universe created? What is dark matter? Is the model physicists have been using to explain the universe correct? These are just some of the puzzling queries that the new physics monolith, the Large Hadron Collider, is attempting to solve. The Large Hadron Collider, built by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is the world’s largest particle accelerator. Particle accelerators are circular structures in which particles are pushed through pipes in opposite directions at incredible speeds and hurled into one another. By observing the results of these collisions, physicists can gather data about particle behavior. The Large Hadron Collider is the fastest ever built, sending atomic particles whizzing through its system at 99.99% the speed of light. This massive structure spans the border of both France and Switzerland and is the brainchild of over 10,000 scientists, 100 countries and over 25 years of work. The Large Hadron Collider is able to achieve these amazing speeds using pioneering technology. Scientists begin by shooting two beams of particles into the collider’s tubing in opposite directions. Special electromagnets produce magnetic fields that guide the particles around the collider. For these magnets to work properly, they must be cooled to super low temperatures, around -271˚C. That’s colder than space! To accomplish these chilling temperatures, liquid hydrogen is constantly pumped through the Large Hadron Collider’s system. The Large Hadron Collider has four main detectors: ATLAS, CMS, ALICE, and LHCb. ATLAS and CMS are both general detectors which scientists will use to discover new

BY LAUREN SWEET ART BY LING JING

physics and the origins of mass. In ALICE, scientists will induce collisions of lead ions in an attempt to recreate the conditions after the Big Bang, and LHCb will focus on explaining and learning more about antimatter. Together, all these experiments will give physicists a new outlook on the origins of mass and the properties and laws that govern the universe. This engineering feat is a testament to the ingenuity of humans, as well as to our insatiable curiosity about the world around us. The project has been in the works for a while, but people everywhere have been waiting with baited breath for the secrets of the universe the Large Hadron Collider may reveal. Scientists ran the first major test on September 19th, 2008. Though the test went smoothly, a problem with one of the magnets cooling systems has postponed all tests until around June of 2009. This new technology has many wondering whether scientists have gone too far in trying to understand the laws of nature. Concerns have been raised regarding the Large Hadron Collider sparking catastrophic chain reactions that will doom the Earth, centering on the creation of black holes, vacuum bubbles and magnetic monopoles. Some worry that the energy involved in these human-generated reactions can create microscopic black holes that will swallow the Earth. However, due to the basic laws of gravity, it would be impossible to create microscopic black holes in the Large Hadron Collider. On top of this, scientists say that any black holes that might be created would disappear immediately due to their lack of energy. One test has already been run, and the world still stands. We can

conclude that the physicists did their homework; the world is safe from any black holes produced by the Large Hadron Collider. Another potential catastrophe is a vacuum bubble. Some scientists theorize that the universe is not in its most stable state. The running of the Large Hadron Collider could tip the scales and make the universe more stable, but also render it uninhabitable for humans. However, the types of reactions produced in the Large Hadron Collider are insignificant compared to the millions of reactions that occur every second in the universe. Since they have not caused this vacuum bubble, the Large Hadron Collider certainly will not. Other hypotheses predict that magnetic monopoles, theoretical particles that have only a North or South charge, could essentially cause the decay of protons. However, these same hypotheses say they are too heavy to appear in the types of reactions the Large Hadron Collider is capable of, and thus pose no threat to the universe. Overall, the Large Hadron Collider is an amazing innovation in the field of science. Its potential contributions to humankind’s knowledge are nearly endless in number. While some argue that we are probing into forces beyond human control, it is human nature to explore the laws that govern our existence. The Large Hadron Collider is one of the greatest human feats of the twenty-first century, opening the field of physics to new and exciting heights.

calling all science prodigies: SUBMIT YOUR ORIGINAL RESEARCH, OPINION ON CURRENT SCIENTIFIC CONTROVERSIES, REVIEW ON WEIRD SCIENCE, OR AN INTERESTING NEWS STORY TO THE FALCONIUM AND GET PUBLISHED. GO NOW TO: FALCONIUM.ORG

DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY ABOUT FALCONIUM’S FIRST ISSUE? SEND ALL COMMENTS AND LETTERS TO THE EDITOR TO INFO@FALCONIUM.ORG

References used for all articles can be found on falconium.org

HEY KIDS GOT SOME COOL IDEAS? SEND THEM TO INNOVATION AND TP NEWS BLOG WHERE YOU WILL BE PUBLISHED ONLINE. THAT’S WHERE IT’S AT. FIND OUT MORE AT FALCONIUM.ORG

WHAT IS THIS a picture of? SEND YOUR GUESSES TO INFO@FALCONIUM.ORG 24


The New Crash Course in Physics

23

How was the universe created? What is dark matter? Is the model physicists have been using to explain the universe correct? These are just some of the puzzling queries that the new physics monolith, the Large Hadron Collider, is attempting to solve. The Large Hadron Collider, built by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is the world’s largest particle accelerator. Particle accelerators are circular structures in which particles are pushed through pipes in opposite directions at incredible speeds and hurled into one another. By observing the results of these collisions, physicists can gather data about particle behavior. The Large Hadron Collider is the fastest ever built, sending atomic particles whizzing through its system at 99.99% the speed of light. This massive structure spans the border of both France and Switzerland and is the brainchild of over 10,000 scientists, 100 countries and over 25 years of work. The Large Hadron Collider is able to achieve these amazing speeds using pioneering technology. Scientists begin by shooting two beams of particles into the collider’s tubing in opposite directions. Special electromagnets produce magnetic fields that guide the particles around the collider. For these magnets to work properly, they must be cooled to super low temperatures, around -271˚C. That’s colder than space! To accomplish these chilling temperatures, liquid hydrogen is constantly pumped through the Large Hadron Collider’s system. The Large Hadron Collider has four main detectors: ATLAS, CMS, ALICE, and LHCb. ATLAS and CMS are both general detectors which scientists will use to discover new

BY LAUREN SWEET ART BY LING JING

physics and the origins of mass. In ALICE, scientists will induce collisions of lead ions in an attempt to recreate the conditions after the Big Bang, and LHCb will focus on explaining and learning more about antimatter. Together, all these experiments will give physicists a new outlook on the origins of mass and the properties and laws that govern the universe. This engineering feat is a testament to the ingenuity of humans, as well as to our insatiable curiosity about the world around us. The project has been in the works for a while, but people everywhere have been waiting with baited breath for the secrets of the universe the Large Hadron Collider may reveal. Scientists ran the first major test on September 19th, 2008. Though the test went smoothly, a problem with one of the magnets cooling systems has postponed all tests until around June of 2009. This new technology has many wondering whether scientists have gone too far in trying to understand the laws of nature. Concerns have been raised regarding the Large Hadron Collider sparking catastrophic chain reactions that will doom the Earth, centering on the creation of black holes, vacuum bubbles and magnetic monopoles. Some worry that the energy involved in these human-generated reactions can create microscopic black holes that will swallow the Earth. However, due to the basic laws of gravity, it would be impossible to create microscopic black holes in the Large Hadron Collider. On top of this, scientists say that any black holes that might be created would disappear immediately due to their lack of energy. One test has already been run, and the world still stands. We can

conclude that the physicists did their homework; the world is safe from any black holes produced by the Large Hadron Collider. Another potential catastrophe is a vacuum bubble. Some scientists theorize that the universe is not in its most stable state. The running of the Large Hadron Collider could tip the scales and make the universe more stable, but also render it uninhabitable for humans. However, the types of reactions produced in the Large Hadron Collider are insignificant compared to the millions of reactions that occur every second in the universe. Since they have not caused this vacuum bubble, the Large Hadron Collider certainly will not. Other hypotheses predict that magnetic monopoles, theoretical particles that have only a North or South charge, could essentially cause the decay of protons. However, these same hypotheses say they are too heavy to appear in the types of reactions the Large Hadron Collider is capable of, and thus pose no threat to the universe. Overall, the Large Hadron Collider is an amazing innovation in the field of science. Its potential contributions to humankind’s knowledge are nearly endless in number. While some argue that we are probing into forces beyond human control, it is human nature to explore the laws that govern our existence. The Large Hadron Collider is one of the greatest human feats of the twenty-first century, opening the field of physics to new and exciting heights.

calling all science prodigies: SUBMIT YOUR ORIGINAL RESEARCH, OPINION ON CURRENT SCIENTIFIC CONTROVERSIES, REVIEW ON WEIRD SCIENCE, OR AN INTERESTING NEWS STORY TO THE FALCONIUM AND GET PUBLISHED. GO NOW TO: FALCONIUM.ORG

DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY ABOUT FALCONIUM’S FIRST ISSUE? SEND ALL COMMENTS AND LETTERS TO THE EDITOR TO INFO@FALCONIUM.ORG

References used for all articles can be found on falconium.org

HEY KIDS GOT SOME COOL IDEAS? SEND THEM TO INNOVATION AND TP NEWS BLOG WHERE YOU WILL BE PUBLISHED ONLINE. THAT’S WHERE IT’S AT. FIND OUT MORE AT FALCONIUM.ORG

WHAT IS THIS a picture of? SEND YOUR GUESSES TO INFO@FALCONIUM.ORG 24


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