Page 1

FALCONIUM VOLUME 2, NUMBER 2

Home Remedies fighting the flu at home 3

Beyond the

paper crane 4

THE HUMAN BODY MIRROR NEURONS

8 BRAIN CONTROL 15 HUMANABILITIES 20

H1N1 CRISIS what you need to know

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STAFF President Alice Fang

Administrative Editor in Chief Noor Al-Alusi

Editor in Chief Ling Jing

Internal Affairs Michelle Kao (coordinator) Siddhartho Bhattacharya Connie Liu Joyce Han Tiffany Sin Sarah Watanaskul

Assistant Editor in Chief Praneet Mylavarapu Graphic Editor Michelle Chen

Distribution Yuri Bae Alka Munshi

Design Editor Amanda Yuan Physics Editor Albert Chen Lauren Sweet

Public Relations Sharon Peng Marketing Florine Pascal (Coordinator) Paul Ho Angela Qian Tavia Sin Mimi Yao

Assistant Physics Editor Siddhartho Bhattacharya Chemistry Editor Michelle Sit Sharad Vikram

Business Manager Michael Dang

Biology Editor Murong He Angela Zou

Secretary Rebecca Kuan

Assistant Biology Editor Melodyanne Cheng Copy Editor Howon Lee Blog Editor Emily Cai News Editor Caroline Yu Editing Assistants Maarya Abbasi Grace Kim Sumana Mahata Eric Marin Justin Song Rebecca Su Web Manager Katya Glazko

Advisor Mr. Brinn Belyea Graphic Designers Claire Chen, Melodyanne Cheng, Joyce Han, Paul Ho, Eugene Hwang, Ling Jing, Sunny Lu, Sumana Mahata, Michelle Oberman, Tiffany Sin, Jessica Zeng, Wendy Zhang, Angela Zou Staff Authors Maarya Abbasi, Noor Al-Alusi, Yuri Bae, Galit Benoni, Siddhartho Bhattacharya, Emily Cai, Albert Chen, Claire Chen, Michelle Chen, Melodyanne Cheng, Michael Dang, Alice Fang, Michelle Kao, Katya Glazko, Joyce Han, Murong He, Paul Ho, Sarah Hsu, Ling Jing, Grace Kim, Makana Krulce, Rebecca Kuan, Connie Liu, Elora Lopez, Sumana Mahata, Nathan Manohar, Eric Marin, Alka Munshi, Praneet Mylavarapu, Michelle Oberman, Florine Pascal, Sharon Peng, Angela Qian, Sara Shu, Michelle Sit, Tavia Sin, Tiffany Sin, Justin Song, Rebecca Su, Lauren Sweet, Sharad Vikram, Sarah Watanaskul, Mimi Yao, Caroline Yu, Wendy Zhang, Andy Zhao, Angela Zou Sponsor:

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STAFF President Alice Fang

Administrative Editor in Chief Noor Al-Alusi

Editor in Chief Ling Jing

Assistant Editor in Chief Praneet Mylavarapu Graphic Editor Michelle Chen

Physics Editor Albert Chen Lauren Sweet

GRAPHIC BY Sumana Mahata

TECHNOLOGY ORIGAMI > A LOOK BETWEEN THE FOLDS 4

HEALTH

Secretary Rebecca Kuan

Assistant Biology Editor Melodyanne Cheng

Web Manager Katya Glazko

COMPULSORY IMMUNIZATION 13

Business Manager Michael Dang

Biology Editor Murong He Angela Zou

Editing Assistants Maarya Abbasi Grace Kim Sumana Mahata Eric Marin Justin Song Rebecca Su

PIGS. PEOPLE. PANDEMONIUM. > THE H1N1 VIRUS 11

Marketing Florine Pascal (Coordinator) Paul Ho Angela Qian Tavia Sin Mimi Yao

Chemistry Editor Michelle Sit Sharad Vikram

News Editor Caroline Yu

SURVIVING THE FLU SEASON 2

Public Relations Sharon Peng

Assistant Physics Editor Siddhartho Bhattacharya

Blog Editor Emily Cai

COVER: FLU

Distribution Yuri Bae Alka Munshi

Design Editor Amanda Yuan

Copy Editor Howon Lee

FALCONIUM

Internal Affairs Michelle Kao (coordinator) Siddhartho Bhattacharya Connie Liu Joyce Han Tiffany Sin Sarah Watanaskul

ENVIRONMENT

ANTITHROMBIN III 18

Advisor Mr. Brinn Belyea

HUMAN BODY

Graphic Designers Claire Chen, Melodyanne Cheng, Joyce Han, Paul Ho, Eugene Hwang, Ling Jing, Sunny Lu, Sumana Mahata, Michelle Oberman, Tiffany Sin, Jessica Zeng, Wendy Zhang, Angela Zou

MEETING THE DEMANDS OF A GROWING NATION: THE CASE FOR OFFSHORE DRILLING 10

MIRROR NEURONS 8

Staff Authors Maarya Abbasi, Noor Al-Alusi, Yuri Bae, Galit Benoni, Siddhartho Bhattacharya, Emily Cai, Albert Chen, Claire Chen, Michelle Chen, Melodyanne Cheng, Michael Dang, Alice Fang, Michelle Kao, Katya Glazko, Joyce Han, Murong He, Paul Ho, Sarah Hsu, Ling Jing, Grace Kim, Makana Krulce, Rebecca Kuan, Connie Liu, Elora Lopez, Sumana Mahata, Nathan Manohar, Eric Marin, Alka Munshi, Praneet Mylavarapu, Michelle Oberman, Florine Pascal, Sharon Peng, Angela Qian, Sara Shu, Michelle Sit, Tavia Sin, Tiffany Sin, Justin Song, Rebecca Su, Lauren Sweet, Sharad Vikram, Sarah Watanaskul, Mimi Yao, Caroline Yu, Wendy Zhang, Andy Zhao, Angela Zou

WHO’S IN CONTROL? > YOU VS. YOUR BRAIN 15

ORIGINAL RESEARCH

MIND OVER BODY > HUMAN ABILITIES 20 PHOTO BY WENDY ZHANG

FINE-TUNED > VIOLIN SOUND ANALYSIS 6 “HEARING” DARK MATTER 17

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cover: Flu Falconium presents:

Surviving the Flu Season

Home Remedies for the Flu SAMBACUS (ELDERBERRY)

BY ALICE FANG AND PAUL HO

Elderberry has been used for centuries to lower cholesterol, improve vision, and treat flu symptoms. However, there is not enough evidence that elderberry GRAPHIC BY JOYCE HAN is effective in treating the new H1N1 virus. Furthermore, while the ripe elderberry can be beneficial, the unripe fruit can cause several adverse side effects such as HONEY vomiting, nausea, and severe diarrhea. Some individuals Honey treatment can allow for a better night’s sleep and may also be allergic to the berry. reduced cough severity during the night. Though honey works to treat upper respiratory tract infections, the exact reasons why it is effective are unclear. Some theories suggest that honey has antioxidant properties and its GINSENG sweet taste causes salivation, which in turn causes Ginseng, a well known plant with medicinal values, secretion of airway mucus that soothes the larynx and the can greatly decrease the risk of catching a cold or flu. pharynx. This then reduces the harshness of coughs. The However, if the patient has already come down with flu exact reason for honey’s usefulness as a cold treatment symptoms, the ginseng does not abate or reduce the has yet to be discovered or posited, however. severity of the symptoms. Even though ginseng has supposed benefits, there are risks as well if it is taken constantly over a period of time or in large dosages. BAN LAN GEN (ISATIS ROOT) Some of the most common side effects include The isatis root is used to treat common illnesses such as nervousness, restlessness, and insomnia. Other more the cold and symptoms like sore throat or cough. Parts dangerous side effects include decreased force and rate of the leaves of this plant are also used with eight other of heartbeats, reduced blood clotting, and increased ingredients in an herbal formula to treat prostate cancer. blood pressure. Recently, people have been using the root to ward off SARS, for the plant is said to have anti-inflammatory effects. It is also believed to be able to reduce fevers and sore throats, detoxify the body, and cure individuals of fever, hepatitis, malaria, and meningitis. However, there is OSCILLOCOCCINUM not enough scientific evidence to support these claims. This homeopathic dilution of a blend of duck heart and liver extract is thought to cure the flu. Homeopathy is References a treatment method that administers drugs to cause “Dailymotion - Natural Mystery: mind over body 1/3 - a Tech & Science video.” symptoms of a disease in a healthy person to prevent Arch Intern med 2009;169:384.www.naturaldatabase.com (10-20-09). CMAJ 2005;173:1043 the actual disease, operating on the idea of “like treats “Ban Lan Gen.” Ban Lan Gen, Health, medical information, prevention, disease, like”. Due to a U.S. law passed in 1938, the Food and health information. ADCCG, Inc, Web. 25 Nov 2009. <http://articles.directorym. com/Ban_Lan_Gen_-a853204.html>. Drug Administration allows the sale of oscillococcinum. Bridges CB, Harper SA, Fukuda K, et al. Prevention and control of influenza: In reality, oscillococcinum is so dilute that it has no Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices MMWR Recomm Rep 2003:52(RR-8); 1-34. active ingredients, is not effective, and could possibly (ACIP). Gwaltney JM Jr. The Common Cold. In: Principles and Practices of Infectious be dangerous if patients rely on it to treat flu symptoms, Dieseases, 5th ed. because complications such as pneumonia can occur. Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone;

It is flu season. With falling leaves, frosting weather, and an increasing enthusiasm for the winter holidays, follows sniveling classmates and sneezing acquaintances. And as with every flu season, there are those who try to stuff down multiple ounces of prevention to avoid the dreaded and perhaps inevitable. Everyone has their preferences and suspicions: chicken noodle soup, Airborne, homemade mixes, and homeopathy are among the many cold and flu remedies of which the health merit is inconclusive.

Google Trends shows that searches for “cold remedies” consistently peak towards the turn of each year, the time of year notoriously known as flu season.

Following this trend, my mother comes around every December beckoning each member of our family to drink Ban Lan Gen, Chinese herbal tea and cure-all. The worn but proudly told stories of how, when she was in school, every classroom would boil a giant pot of it come flu season and how the sweet, warm drink would be ladled into bowls for every student, are repeated in attempt to convince my brother and I to consume the beverage. I have grown to comply acquiescently. It’s not so bad, actually; it almost tastes like the herbal version of hot chocolate, not as all as torturous as pills or cough medicines. The purported benefits of Ban Lan Gen (the Chinese version of Airborne), also known as Isatis Root, include treatment of bronchitis, cancer, chest congestion, common cold, fever, infections, SARS, viral infections, mumps, jaundice, and swelling, and simply strengthening the immune system, among others. Mainstream, however, deems its principal function as “draining toxic heat and fire” and “cooling blood.” Where is the science in all this?

2000. pgs 651-6 Natural Medicines Brand Evidence-based Rating (NMBER^tm). Pharmacist’s Letter/Prescriber’s letter 2009;25(11):25112

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cover: Flu

Surviving the Flu Season

Falconium presents:

Home Remedies for the Flu

BY ALICE FANG AND PAUL HO

SAMBACUS (ELDERBERRY)

It is flu season.

Elderberry has been used for centuries to lower cholesterol, improve vision, and treat flu symptoms. However, there is not enough evidence that elderberry GRAPHIC BY JOYCE HAN is effective in treating the new H1N1 virus. Furthermore, while the ripe elderberry can be beneficial, the unripe fruit can cause several adverse side effects such as HONEY vomiting, nausea, and severe diarrhea. Some individuals Honey treatment can allow for a better night’s sleep and may also be allergic to the berry. reduced cough severity during the night. Though honey works to treat upper respiratory tract infections, the exact reasons why it is effective are unclear. Some theories suggest that honey has antioxidant properties and its GINSENG sweet taste causes salivation, which in turn causes Ginseng, a well known plant with medicinal values, secretion of airway mucus that soothes the larynx and the can greatly decrease the risk of catching a cold or flu. pharynx. This then reduces the harshness of coughs. The However, if the patient has already come down with flu exact reason for honey’s usefulness as a cold treatment symptoms, the ginseng does not abate or reduce the has yet to be discovered or posited, however. severity of the symptoms. Even though ginseng has supposed benefits, there are risks as well if it is taken constantly over a period of time or in large dosages. BAN LAN GEN (ISATIS ROOT) Some of the most common side effects include The isatis root is used to treat common illnesses such as nervousness, restlessness, and insomnia. Other more the cold and symptoms like sore throat or cough. Parts dangerous side effects include decreased force and rate of the leaves of this plant are also used with eight other of heartbeats, reduced blood clotting, and increased ingredients in an herbal formula to treat prostate cancer. blood pressure. Recently, people have been using the root to ward off SARS, for the plant is said to have anti-inflammatory effects. It is also believed to be able to reduce fevers and sore throats, detoxify the body, and cure individuals of fever, hepatitis, malaria, and meningitis. However, there is OSCILLOCOCCINUM not enough scientific evidence to support these claims. This homeopathic dilution of a blend of duck heart and liver extract is thought to cure the flu. Homeopathy is References a treatment method that administers drugs to cause “Dailymotion - Natural Mystery: mind over body 1/3 - a Tech & Science video.” symptoms of a disease in a healthy person to prevent Arch Intern med 2009;169:384.www.naturaldatabase.com (10-20-09). CMAJ 2005;173:1043 the actual disease, operating on the idea of “like treats “Ban Lan Gen.” Ban Lan Gen, Health, medical information, prevention, disease, like”. Due to a U.S. law passed in 1938, the Food and health information. ADCCG, Inc, Web. 25 Nov 2009. <http://articles.directorym. Drug Administration allows the sale of oscillococcinum. com/Ban_Lan_Gen_-a853204.html>. Bridges CB, Harper SA, Fukuda K, et al. Prevention and control of influenza: In reality, oscillococcinum is so dilute that it has no Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices MMWR Recomm Rep 2003:52(RR-8); 1-34. active ingredients, is not effective, and could possibly (ACIP). Gwaltney JM Jr. The Common Cold. In: Principles and Practices of Infectious be dangerous if patients rely on it to treat flu symptoms, Dieseases, 5th ed. because complications such as pneumonia can occur. Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone;

With falling leaves, frosting weather, and an increasing enthusiasm for the winter holidays, follows sniveling classmates and sneezing acquaintances. And as with every flu season, there are those who try to stuff down multiple ounces of prevention to avoid the dreaded and perhaps inevitable. Everyone has their preferences and suspicions: chicken noodle soup, Airborne, homemade mixes, and homeopathy are among the many cold and flu remedies of which the health merit is inconclusive.

Google Trends shows that searches for “cold remedies” consistently peak towards the turn of each year, the time of year notoriously known as flu season.

Following this trend, my mother comes around every December beckoning each member of our family to drink Ban Lan Gen, Chinese herbal tea and cure-all. The worn but proudly told stories of how, when she was in school, every classroom would boil a giant pot of it come flu season and how the sweet, warm drink would be ladled into bowls for every student, are repeated in attempt to convince my brother and I to consume the beverage. I have grown to comply acquiescently. It’s not so bad, actually; it almost tastes like the herbal version of hot chocolate, not as all as torturous as pills or cough medicines. The purported benefits of Ban Lan Gen (the Chinese version of Airborne), also known as Isatis Root, include treatment of bronchitis, cancer, chest congestion, common cold, fever, infections, SARS, viral infections, mumps, jaundice, and swelling, and simply strengthening the immune system, among others. Mainstream, however, deems its principal function as “draining toxic heat and fire” and “cooling blood.” Where is the science in all this?

2000. pgs 651-6 Natural Medicines Brand Evidence-based Rating (NMBER^tm). Pharmacist’s Letter/Prescriber’s letter 2009;25(11):25112

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TECHNOLOGY

PAPER CRANE Creating an animal from a single uncut piece of paper is one of life’s greatest simple pleasures. Few other activities are as rewarding in relation to their brevity and convenience as origami, with the classic crane holding the distinction of being the most widely recognized and adored creation of this art form. Yet as satisfying as folding thousands of cranes, frogs, and boats for decorative purposes is, origami has also recently made its way into engineering, proving itself to be extremely practical and astonishingly useful as well as aesthetically pleasing. Origami owes this new surge in appreciation and application to its inherent mathematics. Physicist and engineer Robert J. Lang, who specializes in fulltime paper folding and is considered one of the world’s greatest origami designers, notes that mathematics makes it physically possible to fold nearly anything out of a sheet of paper, from scorpions with spindly appendages to violinists. Tom Hull, mathematician at Merrimack College, corroborates this relationship, calling origami “latent mathematics”. Origami often makes use of geometric patterns, allowing for numerous polyhedral possibilities. For example, computer scientists at the University of Waterloo and SUNY at Stony Brook proved in 1999 that theoretically, any complex polyhedron of two colors can be created

BY LING JING

Ryan_Somma on flickr

BEYOND THE

space with an aperture of 2.4 meters. In 2002, scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) created a prototype of the proposed gargantuan telescope with a lens diameter of 5 meters. The actual telescope will be a transmissive telescope, with the thin plastic, 100-meter diameter diffractive main lens a few kilometers away from the accessory lens in space. Its immense size will allow it to absorb more light, granting it the power to view terrestrial footballs in one direction and celestial bodies light-years away, such as extra-solar system planets, in the other direction. Initially, however, there was a significant obstacle to this goal. The telescope must be shipped up to space, but no shuttles have room for a fully expanded 100-meter lens. All current shuttles have a maximum cylindrical space four meters in diameter and ten meters long. Thus, the telescope must be carefully folded before it can be stored, and due to the fragility of the lens and the irreparable damage unplanned folds can inflict, it requires a collapsing pattern that minimizes the number of predetermined creases and allows it to fit within a cylinder. To complicate matters further, the folding pattern must avoid sharp creases to avoid impairing optical performance. With the help of Lang and origami principles, a successful solution, resembling an umbrella shape, was found. Other technological applications abound for origami. Origami has been used in airbag design and simulation (the best way to fold an airbag to allow for effective deployment and operation was found using Lang’s insect algorithm); making strong aluminum cans; crushable plastic bottles; conveniently foldable maps; foldable satellite antennas (a technique called Miura-ori allows satellite antennas to be easily folded, then unfolded in space); heat shielding; collision safety engineering; solar sails (mechanism that launches shuttles out of the solar system by riding on the particles in solar wind); environmentally-friendly and exceptionally sturdy pots; planes of sugarcane fiber that can be launched from the ISS; and stints that can be inserted in their folded form into the abdominal aorta, then expand to support a damaged artery, and allow boxes made of DNA to deliver drugs to diseased cells. The airbag is a particularly useful application. Airbag designers know that lives depend on the quality and effectiveness of airbags, which must wholly expand in milliseconds and provide firm support as well as cushioning to prevent injury. Lang has developed virtual folding patterns for airbags to allow simulations to be conducted before an airbag is installed in a car. Simulations are very difficult, involving complex techniques such as finite element analysis to create virtual scenarios. Finite element analysis divides airbags into triangles and positions the triangles as the bag inflates according to factors

by folding a two-colored piece of paper (the origami checkerboard is physical evidence of this theorem). Origami is also a question of optimization: how to create an object with the minimal amount of paper used. Lang developed a computer algorithm, TreeMaker, which outputs the crease pattern for a complex origami design when a stick figure of the subject’s essential features is inputted. TreeMaker generates this base by treating the process as a nonlinear constrained optimization problem, converting the stick figure into a series of algebraic equations, and then using a special numerical optimization code, CFSQP, to solve the equations. Essentially, the algorithm finds a local maximum and expresses it as a pattern of folds. TreeMaker can compute the crease pattern for more complex shapes than can be done by hand, and minimizes paper used while doing so. (Though TreeMaker cannot yet compute crease assignments or the sequence of folds, these can be determined by hand.) Origami’s innate intimacy with math gives it relative simplicity and convenience, easing its application to engineering. One of origami’s most ambitious engineering applications is the current quest to develop a supersized telescope forty times stronger than the Hubble Space Telescope, which is currently the largest one in

such as elasticity and shape of the bag. Using an algorithm known as the universal molecule, the simulation airbag can be flattened with the polygons adjacent to each other. Clearly, the principles of origami are crucial in evaluating the effectiveness and safety of a proposed airbag design before it is and put into use. Thus, these simulations have financial benefits in addition to ultimately minimizing injuries and deaths in car accidents. The possibilities of origami are endless. Though once considered a mere artistic hobby, the Japanese art form has now propelled itself into the realms of science and engineering, and may one day allow us to receive clear images of distant planets or save us through an inflating airbag, deftly folded to maximize efficacy. By digging deeper into the mathematics of origami and combining folding principles with engineering needs, scientists continue to innovate and invent, developing technologies that can shape our world and our understanding of it. Clearly, the principles of uncut and folded sheets of paper will have enormous implications on the future of society and science.

GRAPHIC BY CLAIRE CHEN

Website to check out: www.langorigami.com References Britt, Robert R. “Origami Astronomy: The Art and Science of a Giant Folding Space Telescope.” Space.com. 20 Feb. 2002. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/origami_ design_020220-1.html>. Cipra, Barry A. “In the Fold: Origami Meets Mathematics.” SIAM News. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://www.siam.org/pdf/news/579.pdf>. “Extreme Origami: Fold Everything.” National Geographic Oct. 2009: 24-27. Print. Robert J. Lang Origami. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://www.langorigami.com/ index.php4>. “The Science Of Origami.” Web Japan. 12 Mar. 2008. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://web-japan.org/trends/07_sci-tech/sci080303.html>.

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TECHNOLOGY

PAPER CRANE Creating an animal from a single uncut piece of paper is one of life’s greatest simple pleasures. Few other activities are as rewarding in relation to their brevity and convenience as origami, with the classic crane holding the distinction of being the most widely recognized and adored creation of this art form. Yet as satisfying as folding thousands of cranes, frogs, and boats for decorative purposes is, origami has also recently made its way into engineering, proving itself to be extremely practical and astonishingly useful as well as aesthetically pleasing. Origami owes this new surge in appreciation and application to its inherent mathematics. Physicist and engineer Robert J. Lang, who specializes in fulltime paper folding and is considered one of the world’s greatest origami designers, notes that mathematics makes it physically possible to fold nearly anything out of a sheet of paper, from scorpions with spindly appendages to violinists. Tom Hull, mathematician at Merrimack College, corroborates this relationship, calling origami “latent mathematics”. Origami often makes use of geometric patterns, allowing for numerous polyhedral possibilities. For example, computer scientists at the University of Waterloo and SUNY at Stony Brook proved in 1999 that theoretically, any complex polyhedron of two colors can be created

BY LING JING

Ryan_Somma on flickr

BEYOND THE

space with an aperture of 2.4 meters. In 2002, scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) created a prototype of the proposed gargantuan telescope with a lens diameter of 5 meters. The actual telescope will be a transmissive telescope, with the thin plastic, 100-meter diameter diffractive main lens a few kilometers away from the accessory lens in space. Its immense size will allow it to absorb more light, granting it the power to view terrestrial footballs in one direction and celestial bodies light-years away, such as extra-solar system planets, in the other direction. Initially, however, there was a significant obstacle to this goal. The telescope must be shipped up to space, but no shuttles have room for a fully expanded 100-meter lens. All current shuttles have a maximum cylindrical space four meters in diameter and ten meters long. Thus, the telescope must be carefully folded before it can be stored, and due to the fragility of the lens and the irreparable damage unplanned folds can inflict, it requires a collapsing pattern that minimizes the number of predetermined creases and allows it to fit within a cylinder. To complicate matters further, the folding pattern must avoid sharp creases to avoid impairing optical performance. With the help of Lang and origami principles, a successful solution, resembling an umbrella shape, was found. Other technological applications abound for origami. Origami has been used in airbag design and simulation (the best way to fold an airbag to allow for effective deployment and operation was found using Lang’s insect algorithm); making strong aluminum cans; crushable plastic bottles; conveniently foldable maps; foldable satellite antennas (a technique called Miura-ori allows satellite antennas to be easily folded, then unfolded in space); heat shielding; collision safety engineering; solar sails (mechanism that launches shuttles out of the solar system by riding on the particles in solar wind); environmentally-friendly and exceptionally sturdy pots; planes of sugarcane fiber that can be launched from the ISS; and stints that can be inserted in their folded form into the abdominal aorta, then expand to support a damaged artery, and allow boxes made of DNA to deliver drugs to diseased cells. The airbag is a particularly useful application. Airbag designers know that lives depend on the quality and effectiveness of airbags, which must wholly expand in milliseconds and provide firm support as well as cushioning to prevent injury. Lang has developed virtual folding patterns for airbags to allow simulations to be conducted before an airbag is installed in a car. Simulations are very difficult, involving complex techniques such as finite element analysis to create virtual scenarios. Finite element analysis divides airbags into triangles and positions the triangles as the bag inflates according to factors

by folding a two-colored piece of paper (the origami checkerboard is physical evidence of this theorem). Origami is also a question of optimization: how to create an object with the minimal amount of paper used. Lang developed a computer algorithm, TreeMaker, which outputs the crease pattern for a complex origami design when a stick figure of the subject’s essential features is inputted. TreeMaker generates this base by treating the process as a nonlinear constrained optimization problem, converting the stick figure into a series of algebraic equations, and then using a special numerical optimization code, CFSQP, to solve the equations. Essentially, the algorithm finds a local maximum and expresses it as a pattern of folds. TreeMaker can compute the crease pattern for more complex shapes than can be done by hand, and minimizes paper used while doing so. (Though TreeMaker cannot yet compute crease assignments or the sequence of folds, these can be determined by hand.) Origami’s innate intimacy with math gives it relative simplicity and convenience, easing its application to engineering. One of origami’s most ambitious engineering applications is the current quest to develop a supersized telescope forty times stronger than the Hubble Space Telescope, which is currently the largest one in

such as elasticity and shape of the bag. Using an algorithm known as the universal molecule, the simulation airbag can be flattened with the polygons adjacent to each other. Clearly, the principles of origami are crucial in evaluating the effectiveness and safety of a proposed airbag design before it is and put into use. Thus, these simulations have financial benefits in addition to ultimately minimizing injuries and deaths in car accidents. The possibilities of origami are endless. Though once considered a mere artistic hobby, the Japanese art form has now propelled itself into the realms of science and engineering, and may one day allow us to receive clear images of distant planets or save us through an inflating airbag, deftly folded to maximize efficacy. By digging deeper into the mathematics of origami and combining folding principles with engineering needs, scientists continue to innovate and invent, developing technologies that can shape our world and our understanding of it. Clearly, the principles of uncut and folded sheets of paper will have enormous implications on the future of society and science.

GRAPHIC BY CLAIRE CHEN

Website to check out: www.langorigami.com References Britt, Robert R. “Origami Astronomy: The Art and Science of a Giant Folding Space Telescope.” Space.com. 20 Feb. 2002. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/origami_ design_020220-1.html>. Cipra, Barry A. “In the Fold: Origami Meets Mathematics.” SIAM News. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://www.siam.org/pdf/news/579.pdf>. “Extreme Origami: Fold Everything.” National Geographic Oct. 2009: 24-27. Print. Robert J. Lang Origami. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://www.langorigami.com/ index.php4>. “The Science Of Origami.” Web Japan. 12 Mar. 2008. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://web-japan.org/trends/07_sci-tech/sci080303.html>.

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original research PHOTOS BY WENDY ZHANG

Quantifying Quality: Violin Sound Analysis BY NATHAN MANOHAR EDITED BY ALICE FANG

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An exquisite violin is easily identified by the trained ear. In fact, even untrained ears can spot a good violin upon a mere glance at the price tag: the greatest instruments of seventeenth century Italian luthiers are priced in the millions, while a cheap but playable violin can be bought for less than a hundred dollars. The difference in quality is undeniable, for the perfection behind the making of a Stradivarius – deemed the greatest of all violins – is not easily attained. We tried to determine the quantitative differences between various violins, ranging greatly in price and sound quality. For each violin, open strings were recorded and a Fourier transform was used to generate the spectrogram and determine the percent of sound in each harmonic. The three highest quality instruments tested were the Stradivarius, Schleske, and Marcello Villa violins. The cheapest and poorest quality violin tested was the eBay violin. First, we must examine sound waves to achieve an understanding of violin tone. As sound travels, air molecules compress and expand. When sound waves reach the ear, eardrums vibrate and through the series of processes that follow, a nerve impulse is sent to the brain and sound is “heard.” The height of a sound wave (called amplitude) is related to the volume and amount of compression and rarefaction, or decrease in density, of the air molecules, so a louder sound has larger amplitude. Another essential element of a sound wave is its frequency, the number of times the sound wave cycle repeats in one second, measured in Hertz. For example, A, the note to which an orchestra tunes, has a wave cycle that repeats 440 times in one second. The frequency of the wave is known musically as pitch. Higher pitches have higher frequencies.

Job # x8190

The most basic sound wave resembles a sine graph and has one pure frequency (figure 1a). The complex sounds of instruments, however, contain an infinite mixture of sine and cosine waves (figure 1b). This means that not one, but infinite frequencies, are sounded when a note is played. The reason we hear one pitch and not chaos is because each frequency has a different amplitude, and the main pitch we hear (the fundamental frequency) has the greatest amplitude. The other frequencies involved, called harmonic overtones, peak in amplitude at integer multiples of the fundamental on the graph. When a note is played on the violin, the listener identifies the fundamental frequency as the pitch, but also hears the frequencies of the overtones. These overtones give sound complexity and allow for the differentiation of similar sounds. Different instruments, for example, have different strengths in each harmonic. This is how a trumpet can be distinguished from a flute by ear. This is also how two different violins, even when both are playing the same note, can be distinguished from each other. Thus, in order to compare two violins, we must analyze the strength of its various frequency components, which can be done through a Fourier transform. Essentially, the Fourier transform breaks a complex wave into its sine and cosine components to determine the specific amplitude of each frequency. A spectrogram represents this graphically with time on the horizontal axis, frequency on the vertical axis, and amplitude on 3rd axis (often represented by color). A variety of violins sounding open A (440 Hz) were recorded and compared to each other and to a computer-generated A. On the spectrograms, the computer-generated note A had only one line because it is one pure frequency. The A on the violins,

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School xTorrey Pines High School

Full original lab report can be viewed at www.falconium.org.

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1a Waveform of a pure A-440

1b Waveform of a Stradivarius

2 Frequency vs. strength graph of Stradivarius

3 Frequency vs. strength graph of an eBay violin References Baines, Fran et al. Google Encyclopedia Science. New York: DK Publishing Inc., 2004. Beauchamp, James et al. Music by Computers. New York: John Wiley and Sons Inc.,1969. Benade, Arthur. Fundamentals of Musical Acoustics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Morgan, Joseph. The Physical Basis of Musical Sounds. New York: Rober E. Krieger Publishing Co. Inc., 1980.

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however, had many frequencies—overtones. From the spectrograms, it was noted that as the harmonic overtones on the violin become higher, its strengths also become weaker. The strength of the harmonics varies depending on the violin. The higher quality violins had similar wave patterns and had more strength in the fundamental note. Using the Fourier transform, it was shown that these violins (namely, the Stradivarius (Figure 2), Schleske, and Marcello Villa) had approximately 92, 70, and 82 percent of the sound in the fundamental, respectively. Meanwhile, the Fourier transform revealed that the eBay violin had only 46 percent of the sound in the fundamental for the A string (Figure 3). The huge gap between the high quality and low quality instruments is most likely a reason why some instruments are deemed “high quality” and others are not. It must be noted that greater strength in the fundamental harmonic is not always favorable. The computer-generated sine-wave A has 100 percent of sound in the fundamental; however, this pure frequency is incomparable to the violins. Nonetheless, the fact that the eBay violin had only 46% in the fundamental compared to the 92% in the Stradivarius does show that purity of a sound is one factor in determining the quality of violin. Evidently, more research is needed to determine the extent that purity of sound (percent of fundamental) plays in the perception of quality. However, the percentage of sound in the fundamental may have been altered the quality of recording as well. A higher quality recording system may have picked up sounds in higher harmonics with more precision. Moreover, the highest quality violins tested had higher relative strengths of the fourth harmonic. The Stradivarius had 4.2% of the total sound in the fourth harmonic, while the Schleske and Marcello Villa violins had 15.1% and 9.0% of the sound in the fourth harmonic, respectively. Most of the other harmonics had relatively low strengths, with a thousandth or hundredth percent of the total sound in the high quality instruments. In the lower quality violins, no significant correlation could be made between the strengths of the various harmonics, with certain harmonics having a higher strength in some instruments and not in others. The “randomness” of the distribution of the strength of the harmonics in the lower quality violins probably contributes to their poor tone. By scientifically analyzing the tones produced by the various violins, we were able to find numerous differences between the high and low-quality instruments. The hope is through examining the basis of violin sound, instruments of Stradivarius quality may be one day be replicated with ease and be accessible to musicians around the world.

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School xTorrey Pines High School

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Odd Page


original research PHOTOS BY WENDY ZHANG

Quantifying Quality: Violin Sound Analysis BY NATHAN MANOHAR EDITED BY ALICE FANG

6

9 2 Even Page

An exquisite violin is easily identified by the trained ear. In fact, even untrained ears can spot a good violin upon a mere glance at the price tag: the greatest instruments of seventeenth century Italian luthiers are priced in the millions, while a cheap but playable violin can be bought for less than a hundred dollars. The difference in quality is undeniable, for the perfection behind the making of a Stradivarius – deemed the greatest of all violins – is not easily attained. We tried to determine the quantitative differences between various violins, ranging greatly in price and sound quality. For each violin, open strings were recorded and a Fourier transform was used to generate the spectrogram and determine the percent of sound in each harmonic. The three highest quality instruments tested were the Stradivarius, Schleske, and Marcello Villa violins. The cheapest and poorest quality violin tested was the eBay violin. First, we must examine sound waves to achieve an understanding of violin tone. As sound travels, air molecules compress and expand. When sound waves reach the ear, eardrums vibrate and through the series of processes that follow, a nerve impulse is sent to the brain and sound is “heard.” The height of a sound wave (called amplitude) is related to the volume and amount of compression and rarefaction, or decrease in density, of the air molecules, so a louder sound has larger amplitude. Another essential element of a sound wave is its frequency, the number of times the sound wave cycle repeats in one second, measured in Hertz. For example, A, the note to which an orchestra tunes, has a wave cycle that repeats 440 times in one second. The frequency of the wave is known musically as pitch. Higher pitches have higher frequencies.

Job # x8190

The most basic sound wave resembles a sine graph and has one pure frequency (figure 1a). The complex sounds of instruments, however, contain an infinite mixture of sine and cosine waves (figure 1b). This means that not one, but infinite frequencies, are sounded when a note is played. The reason we hear one pitch and not chaos is because each frequency has a different amplitude, and the main pitch we hear (the fundamental frequency) has the greatest amplitude. The other frequencies involved, called harmonic overtones, peak in amplitude at integer multiples of the fundamental on the graph. When a note is played on the violin, the listener identifies the fundamental frequency as the pitch, but also hears the frequencies of the overtones. These overtones give sound complexity and allow for the differentiation of similar sounds. Different instruments, for example, have different strengths in each harmonic. This is how a trumpet can be distinguished from a flute by ear. This is also how two different violins, even when both are playing the same note, can be distinguished from each other. Thus, in order to compare two violins, we must analyze the strength of its various frequency components, which can be done through a Fourier transform. Essentially, the Fourier transform breaks a complex wave into its sine and cosine components to determine the specific amplitude of each frequency. A spectrogram represents this graphically with time on the horizontal axis, frequency on the vertical axis, and amplitude on 3rd axis (often represented by color). A variety of violins sounding open A (440 Hz) were recorded and compared to each other and to a computer-generated A. On the spectrograms, the computer-generated note A had only one line because it is one pure frequency. The A on the violins,

HJ

School xTorrey Pines High School

Full original lab report can be viewed at www.falconium.org.

WICS20701L

©2006 Herff Jones, Inc., All Rights Reserved

Includes Spot Color(s)

Process 4-Color (CMYK)

1a Waveform of a pure A-440

1b Waveform of a Stradivarius

2 Frequency vs. strength graph of Stradivarius

3 Frequency vs. strength graph of an eBay violin References Baines, Fran et al. Google Encyclopedia Science. New York: DK Publishing Inc., 2004. Beauchamp, James et al. Music by Computers. New York: John Wiley and Sons Inc.,1969. Benade, Arthur. Fundamentals of Musical Acoustics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Morgan, Joseph. The Physical Basis of Musical Sounds. New York: Rober E. Krieger Publishing Co. Inc., 1980.

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however, had many frequencies—overtones. From the spectrograms, it was noted that as the harmonic overtones on the violin become higher, its strengths also become weaker. The strength of the harmonics varies depending on the violin. The higher quality violins had similar wave patterns and had more strength in the fundamental note. Using the Fourier transform, it was shown that these violins (namely, the Stradivarius (Figure 2), Schleske, and Marcello Villa) had approximately 92, 70, and 82 percent of the sound in the fundamental, respectively. Meanwhile, the Fourier transform revealed that the eBay violin had only 46 percent of the sound in the fundamental for the A string (Figure 3). The huge gap between the high quality and low quality instruments is most likely a reason why some instruments are deemed “high quality” and others are not. It must be noted that greater strength in the fundamental harmonic is not always favorable. The computer-generated sine-wave A has 100 percent of sound in the fundamental; however, this pure frequency is incomparable to the violins. Nonetheless, the fact that the eBay violin had only 46% in the fundamental compared to the 92% in the Stradivarius does show that purity of a sound is one factor in determining the quality of violin. Evidently, more research is needed to determine the extent that purity of sound (percent of fundamental) plays in the perception of quality. However, the percentage of sound in the fundamental may have been altered the quality of recording as well. A higher quality recording system may have picked up sounds in higher harmonics with more precision. Moreover, the highest quality violins tested had higher relative strengths of the fourth harmonic. The Stradivarius had 4.2% of the total sound in the fourth harmonic, while the Schleske and Marcello Villa violins had 15.1% and 9.0% of the sound in the fourth harmonic, respectively. Most of the other harmonics had relatively low strengths, with a thousandth or hundredth percent of the total sound in the high quality instruments. In the lower quality violins, no significant correlation could be made between the strengths of the various harmonics, with certain harmonics having a higher strength in some instruments and not in others. The “randomness” of the distribution of the strength of the harmonics in the lower quality violins probably contributes to their poor tone. By scientifically analyzing the tones produced by the various violins, we were able to find numerous differences between the high and low-quality instruments. The hope is through examining the basis of violin sound, instruments of Stradivarius quality may be one day be replicated with ease and be accessible to musicians around the world.

Job # x8190

9

School xTorrey Pines High School

Special Instructions

3

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human body

MIRROR NEURONS SNORUEN RORRIM BY Michelle Oberman

PHOTOS BY MELODYANNE CHENG

PHOTOS BY AMANDA YUAN

,ssalc ecneics doirep htxis ruoy ni gnittis er’uoY rof snoitcurtsni s’rehcaet ruoy ot gninetsil ylevitnetta uoy ,eye ruoy fo renroc eht fo tuO .bal gnimocpu na sih revo dehcuols setamssalc wollef ruoy fo eno tops evaw A .syad ni tpels t’nsah eh fi sa gnikool ,koobtxet duol a tuo tel uoy dna uoy revo speews ssenisword fo enfi tlef I ,flesruoy ksa uoy ?derit os I ma yhW .nway .oga etunim a tsuj htiw yawllah eht nwod gnillorts er’uoy spahrep rO yhcti reh tuoba nialpmoc reh ot gninetsil ,dneirf ruoy ,woble reh ta hctarcs ot spots ehS .retaews loow mra ruoy hctarcs ot deen eht leef uoy ,ylneddus nehw uoy ,mra reppu ruoy bur ylsuorogiv uoy sA .llew sa .yhcti leef ylneddus uoy yhw rednow tub pleh t’nac .retaews loow eht ni eno eht ton er’uoy ,lla retfA gnilwarc taht dna ,yzarc gniog ton er’uoy ,oN A .noitanigami ruoy ton si mra ruoy no noitasnes reppu eht ni dnuof sllec evren fo puorg xelpmoc ot rewsna eht dloh yam niarb namuh eht fo noiger yletairporppA .soiranecs gnilzzup eseht fo htob sllec niarb dezilaiceps eseht ,snoruen rorrim dellac noitca na gnimrofrep era uoy nehw htob detavitca era .noitca na gnimrofrep si esle enoemos nehw dna eb ot thguoht erew snoruen rorrim ,yltnecer litnu pU .seiceps evitimirp erom ,niatrec ylno yb dessessop ni ecneserp rieht gnitabed llits era stsitneics elihW anemonehp nialpxe yam snoruen rorrim ,sniarb namuh fo noitulove eht ,ssenerawa-fles ,yhtapme sa hcus .msitua dna ,egaugnal ni derevocsid yllanigiro erew snoruen rorriM lortnoc gnivlovni yduts a fo toohsffo eht ,s0891 eht .syeknom euqacam ni snoitca htuom dna dnah fo

You’re sitting in your sixth period science class, attentively listening to your teacher’s instructions for an upcoming lab. Out of the corner of your eye, you spot one of your fellow classmates slouched over his textbook, looking as if he hasn’t slept in days. A wave of drowsiness sweeps over you and you let out a loud yawn. Why am I so tired? you ask yourself, I felt fine just a minute ago. Or perhaps you’re strolling down the hallway with your friend, listening to her complain about her itchy wool sweater. She stops to scratch at her elbow, when suddenly, you feel the need to scratch your arm as well. As you vigorously rub your upper arm, you can’t help but wonder why you suddenly feel itchy. After all, you’re not the one in the wool sweater. No, you’re not going crazy, and that crawling sensation on your arm is not your imagination. A complex group of nerve cells found in the upper region of the human brain may hold the answer to both of these puzzling scenarios. Appropriately called mirror neurons, these specialized brain cells are activated both when you are performing an action and when someone else is performing an action. Up until recently, mirror neurons were thought to be possessed by only certain, more primitive species. While scientists are still debating their presence in human brains, mirror neurons may explain phenomena such as empathy, self-awareness, early learning, the evolution of language, and autism. Mirror neurons were originally discovered in the 1980s, the offshoot of a study involving control of hand and mouth actions in macaque monkeys.

The monkeys in the experiment were affixed with special electrodes in their ventral premotor cortex, an area of the brain that plans movements, to allow the researchers to measure the activity of the premotor neurons when the monkey reached for a peanut. Led by Italian neuropsychologist Giacomo Rizolatti, the finding was a major leap forward for neurologists and psychologists all over the world. The observed neurons fired not only when the monkeys reached for a peanut, but also when the researchers themselves picked up a piece of food. In 1996, after more than a decade of research, Rizzolatti and his team officially coined the term “mirror neurons.” The well-known cognitive neuroscientist, V.S. Ramachandran, even went as far as claiming, “Mirror neurons will do for psychology what DNA did for biology. They will provide a unifying framework and help explain a host of mental abilities that have hitherto remained mysterious and inaccessible in experiment.” Since their discovery, mirror neurons have captivated the interest of scientists all over the world. A recent study published in The Journal of Neuroscience has provided scientists with additional evidence supporting the theory that mirror neurons exist in humans. Led by James Kilner of the Wellcome Trust for Neuroimaging at University College London, the experiment used MRI scans to monitor volunteers’ brains as they first gripped objects and then watched videos of someone else gripping the same objects. Kilner was able to obtain the results he was hoping for—groups of neurons in the inferior frontal gyrus of the brain became equally active in both trials, suggesting the presence of mirror neurons. Mirror neurons are believed to exist in several parts of the brain that are associated with feeling emotions or processing sensory information, including the premotor cortex, the posterior parietal

lobe, the superior temporal sulcus, and the insula. If it exists, the mirror neuron system in humans is far more sophisticated than that in our primate counterparts. In monkeys, these neurons only fire for actions involving objects; in humans, they would form the basis of our social abilities. According to Dr. Rizzolatti, “Mirror neurons allow us to grasp the minds of others not through conceptual reasoning but through direct stimulation. By feeling, not thinking.” So the next time you wince in response to watching someone stricken with pain, or feel nervous for a friend giving a performance, you may have your mirror neuron system to thank. If the mirror neuron system exists in humans, it could be largely responsible for our understanding of others and our ability to maintain close relationships and possess social skills superior to those of most other species. Although still a topic of great debate in the scientific community, mirror neurons could be promising in a variety of fields, such as psychology, neurology, and anthropology. One thing is certain—mirror neurons will continue to arouse the curiosity of scientists all over the world for generations to come. References Begley, Sharon. “How ‘Mirror Neurons’ Help Us to Empathize.” Http://postgazette.com. The Wall Street Journal, 7 Mar. 2005. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http:// post-gazette.com/pg/05066/466993.stm>. Blakeslee, Sandra. “Cells That Read Minds.” Http://nytimes.com. The New York Times, 10 Jan. 2006. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://www.nytimes. com/2006/01/10/science/10mirr.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1>. Chudler, Eric H. “Lights, Camera, Action Potential.” 2008. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/ap.html>. Dobbs, David. “A Revealing Reflection.” Http://daviddobbs.net. 2006. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://daviddobbs.net/page2/page4/mirrorneurons.html>. “Mirror Neuron.” Http://wikipedia.org. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Mirror_neuron>. Saey, Tina H. “Neurons Play Simon Says.” Http://www.sciencenews.org. 12 Sept. 2009. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/ id/46276/title/Neurons_play_Simon_Says>. Shenk, Lindsay M. EEG Evidence for Mirror Neuron Dysfunction in Autism. UC San Diego. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://psy2.ucsd.edu/~lshenk/cnsfinal.pdf>.

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human body

MIRROR NEURONS SNORUEN RORRIM BY Michelle Oberman

PHOTOS BY MELODYANNE CHENG

PHOTOS BY AMANDA YUAN

,ssalc ecneics doirep htxis ruoy ni gnittis er’uoY rof snoitcurtsni s’rehcaet ruoy ot gninetsil ylevitnetta uoy ,eye ruoy fo renroc eht fo tuO .bal gnimocpu na sih revo dehcuols setamssalc wollef ruoy fo eno tops evaw A .syad ni tpels t’nsah eh fi sa gnikool ,koobtxet duol a tuo tel uoy dna uoy revo speews ssenisword fo enfi tlef I ,flesruoy ksa uoy ?derit os I ma yhW .nway .oga etunim a tsuj htiw yawllah eht nwod gnillorts er’uoy spahrep rO yhcti reh tuoba nialpmoc reh ot gninetsil ,dneirf ruoy ,woble reh ta hctarcs ot spots ehS .retaews loow mra ruoy hctarcs ot deen eht leef uoy ,ylneddus nehw uoy ,mra reppu ruoy bur ylsuorogiv uoy sA .llew sa .yhcti leef ylneddus uoy yhw rednow tub pleh t’nac .retaews loow eht ni eno eht ton er’uoy ,lla retfA gnilwarc taht dna ,yzarc gniog ton er’uoy ,oN A .noitanigami ruoy ton si mra ruoy no noitasnes reppu eht ni dnuof sllec evren fo puorg xelpmoc ot rewsna eht dloh yam niarb namuh eht fo noiger yletairporppA .soiranecs gnilzzup eseht fo htob sllec niarb dezilaiceps eseht ,snoruen rorrim dellac noitca na gnimrofrep era uoy nehw htob detavitca era .noitca na gnimrofrep si esle enoemos nehw dna eb ot thguoht erew snoruen rorrim ,yltnecer litnu pU .seiceps evitimirp erom ,niatrec ylno yb dessessop ni ecneserp rieht gnitabed llits era stsitneics elihW anemonehp nialpxe yam snoruen rorrim ,sniarb namuh fo noitulove eht ,ssenerawa-fles ,yhtapme sa hcus .msitua dna ,egaugnal ni derevocsid yllanigiro erew snoruen rorriM lortnoc gnivlovni yduts a fo toohsffo eht ,s0891 eht .syeknom euqacam ni snoitca htuom dna dnah fo

You’re sitting in your sixth period science class, attentively listening to your teacher’s instructions for an upcoming lab. Out of the corner of your eye, you spot one of your fellow classmates slouched over his textbook, looking as if he hasn’t slept in days. A wave of drowsiness sweeps over you and you let out a loud yawn. Why am I so tired? you ask yourself, I felt fine just a minute ago. Or perhaps you’re strolling down the hallway with your friend, listening to her complain about her itchy wool sweater. She stops to scratch at her elbow, when suddenly, you feel the need to scratch your arm as well. As you vigorously rub your upper arm, you can’t help but wonder why you suddenly feel itchy. After all, you’re not the one in the wool sweater. No, you’re not going crazy, and that crawling sensation on your arm is not your imagination. A complex group of nerve cells found in the upper region of the human brain may hold the answer to both of these puzzling scenarios. Appropriately called mirror neurons, these specialized brain cells are activated both when you are performing an action and when someone else is performing an action. Up until recently, mirror neurons were thought to be possessed by only certain, more primitive species. While scientists are still debating their presence in human brains, mirror neurons may explain phenomena such as empathy, self-awareness, early learning, the evolution of language, and autism. Mirror neurons were originally discovered in the 1980s, the offshoot of a study involving control of hand and mouth actions in macaque monkeys.

The monkeys in the experiment were affixed with special electrodes in their ventral premotor cortex, an area of the brain that plans movements, to allow the researchers to measure the activity of the premotor neurons when the monkey reached for a peanut. Led by Italian neuropsychologist Giacomo Rizolatti, the finding was a major leap forward for neurologists and psychologists all over the world. The observed neurons fired not only when the monkeys reached for a peanut, but also when the researchers themselves picked up a piece of food. In 1996, after more than a decade of research, Rizzolatti and his team officially coined the term “mirror neurons.” The well-known cognitive neuroscientist, V.S. Ramachandran, even went as far as claiming, “Mirror neurons will do for psychology what DNA did for biology. They will provide a unifying framework and help explain a host of mental abilities that have hitherto remained mysterious and inaccessible in experiment.” Since their discovery, mirror neurons have captivated the interest of scientists all over the world. A recent study published in The Journal of Neuroscience has provided scientists with additional evidence supporting the theory that mirror neurons exist in humans. Led by James Kilner of the Wellcome Trust for Neuroimaging at University College London, the experiment used MRI scans to monitor volunteers’ brains as they first gripped objects and then watched videos of someone else gripping the same objects. Kilner was able to obtain the results he was hoping for—groups of neurons in the inferior frontal gyrus of the brain became equally active in both trials, suggesting the presence of mirror neurons. Mirror neurons are believed to exist in several parts of the brain that are associated with feeling emotions or processing sensory information, including the premotor cortex, the posterior parietal

lobe, the superior temporal sulcus, and the insula. If it exists, the mirror neuron system in humans is far more sophisticated than that in our primate counterparts. In monkeys, these neurons only fire for actions involving objects; in humans, they would form the basis of our social abilities. According to Dr. Rizzolatti, “Mirror neurons allow us to grasp the minds of others not through conceptual reasoning but through direct stimulation. By feeling, not thinking.” So the next time you wince in response to watching someone stricken with pain, or feel nervous for a friend giving a performance, you may have your mirror neuron system to thank. If the mirror neuron system exists in humans, it could be largely responsible for our understanding of others and our ability to maintain close relationships and possess social skills superior to those of most other species. Although still a topic of great debate in the scientific community, mirror neurons could be promising in a variety of fields, such as psychology, neurology, and anthropology. One thing is certain—mirror neurons will continue to arouse the curiosity of scientists all over the world for generations to come. References Begley, Sharon. “How ‘Mirror Neurons’ Help Us to Empathize.” Http://postgazette.com. The Wall Street Journal, 7 Mar. 2005. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http:// post-gazette.com/pg/05066/466993.stm>. Blakeslee, Sandra. “Cells That Read Minds.” Http://nytimes.com. The New York Times, 10 Jan. 2006. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://www.nytimes. com/2006/01/10/science/10mirr.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1>. Chudler, Eric H. “Lights, Camera, Action Potential.” 2008. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/ap.html>. Dobbs, David. “A Revealing Reflection.” Http://daviddobbs.net. 2006. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://daviddobbs.net/page2/page4/mirrorneurons.html>. “Mirror Neuron.” Http://wikipedia.org. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Mirror_neuron>. Saey, Tina H. “Neurons Play Simon Says.” Http://www.sciencenews.org. 12 Sept. 2009. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/ id/46276/title/Neurons_play_Simon_Says>. Shenk, Lindsay M. EEG Evidence for Mirror Neuron Dysfunction in Autism. UC San Diego. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://psy2.ucsd.edu/~lshenk/cnsfinal.pdf>.

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ENVIRONMENT

Meeting the Energy Demands of A Growing Nation: The Case for Offshore Drilling BY Naveen Krishnamurthi EDITED BY MURONG HE

Protecting our environment and preserving our animals are notions that appeal to our ethics and moral sense, but at what point does idealism become a crutch in real-world policy-making and hamper our ability to sustain ourselves? It’s true that we share this planet with billions of animals, and that we have a responsibility to take care of them, but at the same time, we have an even greater responsibility to take care of ourselves and protect our future. With oceans covering over three quarters of the Earth’s surface, the majority of the world’s oil sources can be found underwater. Offshore drilling uses heavy machinery to extract oil from deep beneath the ocean bed. Heavy drills and enormous steel towers located in close proximity to the coastline allow for the easy transport of oil to the American mainland. Oil extraction is a very lucrative business. Although the United States only has an estimated 3% of the world’s oil reserves, it uses approximately 24% annually. The cost of oil is expected to rise from its current value of less than $80 a barrel to $110 a barrel by 2015. As a result, there is significant demand for a domestic supply to help the U.S. become selfsufficient and meet its growing energy demands. On one hand, offshore drilling may seem to have devastating and seemingly unacceptable consequences for local marine ecosystems. On the other hand, however, it could revitalize a dying economy with the creation of thousands of jobs, in addition to weaning our nation off foreign oil imports. By removing many of the current regulations for protecting marine life, we would receive the tools necessary to sustain our oil-driven economy. Heated debate over the ethics of offshore drilling occurs in part because up to 75 billion barrels of oil may be located in parts of the Artic National Wildlife Refuge and various stretches of public water on American coasts. Setting up drilling plants in those protected areas would mean forsaking their purity and pristine nature. However, setting up drilling plants would also mean providing an enormous source of revenue for our federal government. In this recession, when millions of Americans are left jobless, we must put the interests of the people in front of those of the environment. The government knows how profitable

the oil industry is. In 2007, oil and natural gas industries paid $6.8 billion for rights to drill for offshore oil and an additional $8.7 billion stemming from production royalties to the U.S. federal government. Thus, this issue has become a question of marine preservation being weighed against American economic interests. Regardless of economic benefits, many environmentalists stand firm in the belief that the welfare of local ecosystems should never be compromised. Some fear that allowing actions that encroach on marine ecosystems will lead to a slippery slope of environmental destruction. But this type of mindset underestimates the ecosystem’s natural ability to adapt. Offshore drilling platforms can actually function as artificial reefs, and studies conducted at Louisiana State University reveal that there tends to be 50 times as much marine life around these platforms as on the surrounding ocean floor. Ecosystems aren’t static; they adapt to meet the changing external conditions. Thus, offshore drilling plants are not nearly as harmful as their opponents make them out to be. Another significant environmental concern that has been cited in the case against offshore drilling is the possibility of oil spills. The danger, however, has been greatly overstated. Studies have shown that runoff and treated sewage together dump as much as 11 times more oil into the Gulf of Mexico than do the thousands of oil rigs in the area. In addition, natural dissipation of oil from the Gulf’s ocean floor produces approximately 7 times the amount of oil that is spilled from the offshore drilling platforms in the region. In other words, natural processes and current practices cause greater harm than offshore drilling has the potential to. Also, the majority of oil spills have occurred as a result of the transportation of oil, such as in the 1976 spill off the coast of Florida, a region that has prohibited all offshore oil drilling attempts on its beaches. Louisiana, on the other hand, which contains as many as 3200 offshore oil platforms, is yet to report a single significant oil spill. Preserving aquatic ecosystems should be a necessary component of our decision calculus when it comes to political action. But the decision to allow for offshore drilling is clearly the logical choice, for its benefits to the American economy substantially outweigh any potential harm to the environment.

cover: Flu

PHOTO BY AMANDA YUAN

CDC Influenza Laboratory

PIGS. PEOPLE. PANDEMONIUM. THE H1N1 VIRUS In 2005, domestic and wild birds in Asia fell sick, hemorrhaging to death within hours of the onset of symptoms. Alarmingly, the same disease began afflicting humans in the region, causing their lungs to fill with bloody fluid until they suffocated to death. This avian flu sparked global terror--with a 63% mortality rate, it had the potential to decimate the world’s population and kill up to 360 million people if it developed the ability to pass from human to human. Fortunately, eradication efforts were able to keep this catastrophe at bay. Now, however, a new, crossspecies virus has surfaced, one that passes as easily from person to person as the seasonal flu. The H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu, has been floating in and out of public radio, television, newspapers, and human bodies for the past several months, mirroring the global panic in 2005 over the deadly avian flu. It has led the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a pandemic and President Obama to issue a national emergency, not to mention initiating hurried calls for research, containment, and vaccines throughout the international community. However, despite its apparent ubiquity in society and dangerous potential, how exactly this little bundle of protein and nucleic acid is wreaking havoc across our planet is an enigma to most. H1N1 is a respiratory disease with origins as a swine virus, hence the well-known nickname. Among pigs, swine flu is usually not fatal; rather, it is similar to

References “Battle Over Offshore Drilling In Arctic Dwarfs ANWR : NPR.” NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story. php?storyId=103119177>. “Drill for Offshore Oil by Humberto Fontova.” LewRockwell.com. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <http://www.lewrockwell.com/fontova/fontova68.html>. “EIA - International Energy Outlook 2009 - Highlights Section.” Energy Information Administration - EIA - Official Energy Statistics from the U.S. Government. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/ highlights.html>. “Petroleum Topics: Offshore Drilling.” World Petroleum Council. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <http://www.world-petroleum.org/education/offdrill/index.html>. “Will More Drilling Mean Cheaper Gas? - TIME.” Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos, Video, Tech Reviews - TIME

BY REBECCA SU EDITED BY LING JING

the common flu that humans catch each year in the fall or winter, causing symptoms such as cough and decreased appetite. Although swine flu has infected people in the past, its victims have usually been pork processors or farmers--people in close contact with pigs. This new strain of the H1N1 flu has done the worst thing that a cross-species flu virus can do: it has developed the fearsome ability to be transmitted from human to human, allowing it to spread rapidly through the populace and infect those who have never had contact with pigs. This easy transmission is what would have made avian flu a worldwide disaster. Estimates from the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show that approximately one million people have been infected and ten thousand killed worldwide from swine flu so far. Epidemiological studies conducted by National Institutes of Health of 15 pandemics over the past 500 years reveal that the flu may become more widespread in the winter season, but not necessarily increase in severity or virulence. Some researchers even hypothesize that H1N1 may be milder than the seasonal flu, pointing out that more people have caught and died of the seasonal flu than H1N1 this year so far. Swine flu may not yet be dangerous enough to cause such a catastrophe, but a drug-resistant and stronger strain could very well develop. H1N1 is named for the two main antigens on its surface: hemagglutinin type 1 (H1) and

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ENVIRONMENT

Meeting the Energy Demands of A Growing Nation: The Case for Offshore Drilling BY Naveen Krishnamurthi EDITED BY MURONG HE

Protecting our environment and preserving our animals are notions that appeal to our ethics and moral sense, but at what point does idealism become a crutch in real-world policy-making and hamper our ability to sustain ourselves? It’s true that we share this planet with billions of animals, and that we have a responsibility to take care of them, but at the same time, we have an even greater responsibility to take care of ourselves and protect our future. With oceans covering over three quarters of the Earth’s surface, the majority of the world’s oil sources can be found underwater. Offshore drilling uses heavy machinery to extract oil from deep beneath the ocean bed. Heavy drills and enormous steel towers located in close proximity to the coastline allow for the easy transport of oil to the American mainland. Oil extraction is a very lucrative business. Although the United States only has an estimated 3% of the world’s oil reserves, it uses approximately 24% annually. The cost of oil is expected to rise from its current value of less than $80 a barrel to $110 a barrel by 2015. As a result, there is significant demand for a domestic supply to help the U.S. become selfsufficient and meet its growing energy demands. On one hand, offshore drilling may seem to have devastating and seemingly unacceptable consequences for local marine ecosystems. On the other hand, however, it could revitalize a dying economy with the creation of thousands of jobs, in addition to weaning our nation off foreign oil imports. By removing many of the current regulations for protecting marine life, we would receive the tools necessary to sustain our oil-driven economy. Heated debate over the ethics of offshore drilling occurs in part because up to 75 billion barrels of oil may be located in parts of the Artic National Wildlife Refuge and various stretches of public water on American coasts. Setting up drilling plants in those protected areas would mean forsaking their purity and pristine nature. However, setting up drilling plants would also mean providing an enormous source of revenue for our federal government. In this recession, when millions of Americans are left jobless, we must put the interests of the people in front of those of the environment. The government knows how profitable

the oil industry is. In 2007, oil and natural gas industries paid $6.8 billion for rights to drill for offshore oil and an additional $8.7 billion stemming from production royalties to the U.S. federal government. Thus, this issue has become a question of marine preservation being weighed against American economic interests. Regardless of economic benefits, many environmentalists stand firm in the belief that the welfare of local ecosystems should never be compromised. Some fear that allowing actions that encroach on marine ecosystems will lead to a slippery slope of environmental destruction. But this type of mindset underestimates the ecosystem’s natural ability to adapt. Offshore drilling platforms can actually function as artificial reefs, and studies conducted at Louisiana State University reveal that there tends to be 50 times as much marine life around these platforms as on the surrounding ocean floor. Ecosystems aren’t static; they adapt to meet the changing external conditions. Thus, offshore drilling plants are not nearly as harmful as their opponents make them out to be. Another significant environmental concern that has been cited in the case against offshore drilling is the possibility of oil spills. The danger, however, has been greatly overstated. Studies have shown that runoff and treated sewage together dump as much as 11 times more oil into the Gulf of Mexico than do the thousands of oil rigs in the area. In addition, natural dissipation of oil from the Gulf’s ocean floor produces approximately 7 times the amount of oil that is spilled from the offshore drilling platforms in the region. In other words, natural processes and current practices cause greater harm than offshore drilling has the potential to. Also, the majority of oil spills have occurred as a result of the transportation of oil, such as in the 1976 spill off the coast of Florida, a region that has prohibited all offshore oil drilling attempts on its beaches. Louisiana, on the other hand, which contains as many as 3200 offshore oil platforms, is yet to report a single significant oil spill. Preserving aquatic ecosystems should be a necessary component of our decision calculus when it comes to political action. But the decision to allow for offshore drilling is clearly the logical choice, for its benefits to the American economy substantially outweigh any potential harm to the environment.

cover: Flu

PHOTO BY AMANDA YUAN

CDC Influenza Laboratory

PIGS. PEOPLE. PANDEMONIUM. THE H1N1 VIRUS In 2005, domestic and wild birds in Asia fell sick, hemorrhaging to death within hours of the onset of symptoms. Alarmingly, the same disease began afflicting humans in the region, causing their lungs to fill with bloody fluid until they suffocated to death. This avian flu sparked global terror--with a 63% mortality rate, it had the potential to decimate the world’s population and kill up to 360 million people if it developed the ability to pass from human to human. Fortunately, eradication efforts were able to keep this catastrophe at bay. Now, however, a new, crossspecies virus has surfaced, one that passes as easily from person to person as the seasonal flu. The H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu, has been floating in and out of public radio, television, newspapers, and human bodies for the past several months, mirroring the global panic in 2005 over the deadly avian flu. It has led the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a pandemic and President Obama to issue a national emergency, not to mention initiating hurried calls for research, containment, and vaccines throughout the international community. However, despite its apparent ubiquity in society and dangerous potential, how exactly this little bundle of protein and nucleic acid is wreaking havoc across our planet is an enigma to most. H1N1 is a respiratory disease with origins as a swine virus, hence the well-known nickname. Among pigs, swine flu is usually not fatal; rather, it is similar to

References “Battle Over Offshore Drilling In Arctic Dwarfs ANWR : NPR.” NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story. php?storyId=103119177>. “Drill for Offshore Oil by Humberto Fontova.” LewRockwell.com. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <http://www.lewrockwell.com/fontova/fontova68.html>. “EIA - International Energy Outlook 2009 - Highlights Section.” Energy Information Administration - EIA - Official Energy Statistics from the U.S. Government. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/ highlights.html>. “Petroleum Topics: Offshore Drilling.” World Petroleum Council. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <http://www.world-petroleum.org/education/offdrill/index.html>. “Will More Drilling Mean Cheaper Gas? - TIME.” Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos, Video, Tech Reviews - TIME

BY REBECCA SU EDITED BY LING JING

the common flu that humans catch each year in the fall or winter, causing symptoms such as cough and decreased appetite. Although swine flu has infected people in the past, its victims have usually been pork processors or farmers--people in close contact with pigs. This new strain of the H1N1 flu has done the worst thing that a cross-species flu virus can do: it has developed the fearsome ability to be transmitted from human to human, allowing it to spread rapidly through the populace and infect those who have never had contact with pigs. This easy transmission is what would have made avian flu a worldwide disaster. Estimates from the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show that approximately one million people have been infected and ten thousand killed worldwide from swine flu so far. Epidemiological studies conducted by National Institutes of Health of 15 pandemics over the past 500 years reveal that the flu may become more widespread in the winter season, but not necessarily increase in severity or virulence. Some researchers even hypothesize that H1N1 may be milder than the seasonal flu, pointing out that more people have caught and died of the seasonal flu than H1N1 this year so far. Swine flu may not yet be dangerous enough to cause such a catastrophe, but a drug-resistant and stronger strain could very well develop. H1N1 is named for the two main antigens on its surface: hemagglutinin type 1 (H1) and

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cover: Flu

Compulsory Immunizations BY NOOR AL-ALUSI

As children, the vast majority of us detested receiving shots. This innate repulsion can probably be attributed to the fact that we were not too fond of the long, sharp needles that penetrated our skin. The concept of immunization was not very clear to us then—why we had to receive treatment when we felt perfectly healthy just did not make sense. This concept of immunization still does not make sense to many learned adults today. However, a different reason causes adult apprehension. For the most part, children do not understand immunization because they lack of knowledge of the situation, while adults disagree because they are cognizant of the logical flaws in the vindication of compulsory immunization. This article will explore these flaws and other arguments in opposition to compulsory immunization, and will reveal that perhaps our childhood intuitions were correct. But first, here is a brief synopsis on the nature of immunizations. An immunization, also known as a vaccination, works by sensitizing the immune system. The objective of immunization is to defend the body against viral or bacterial infection. The first step is to inject an inducing agent - which may be a weakened viral strain, a small portion of defunct bacterial toxin, or a purified protein - into the bloodstream. Once the inducing agent is in the system, white blood cells called lymphocytes secrete antibodies that mark the agent for elimination. Then, memory cells in the body dedicate this experience to immunological memory. If the person encounters the real pathogen that the inducing agent was representative of, his or her body will have a quick secondary response, which may prevent or ameliorate the effects of infectious disease. The term compulsory immunization refers to governmental policies that enforce vaccination of all people by threatening punishment, such as fines or the withholding of certain privileges. For example, in the United States, children need to be vaccinated against several common infectious diseases before entering school. Of course, the intention of this is very clear; this policy was designed to promote the common good. By ensuring that all people receive this immunizing treatment, the chances of infection

CDC Influenza Laboratory

neuraminidase type 1 (N1). The exact structure of swine flu neuraminidase is unknown, but bears a great similarity to that of avian flu. Neuriminidase is a glycoprotein, or a protein with attached carbohydrate chains, that allows the virus to replicate, release new virons, and infect human cells by cleaving linkages in sialic acid on host cells, which act as receptors and determine the host range for a virus via the specificity of forms of the acid. H1N1 is an influenza A virus, meaning that it is in the class of flu viruses that infects birds and mammals and poses the most serious threat to humans. Like all flu viruses, H1N1 has a segmented genome. In other words, its genetic code is contained in eight separate RNA strands, each of which codes for a distinct polypeptide involved in virus function. When any virus infects its host cell, it injects its genetic material into the host. Once the viral genes take control of the host cell, they begin to replicate and can pick up stray pieces of genetic material in the host cell in the process. In a phenomenon known as antigenic drift, when viruses from two or more different species happen to collect in one cell, they may “reassort” and switch chromosomes to create a new supervirus. The current version of swine flu evolved through this mutation process and is a quadruple reassortant; it contains 1 human RNA strand, 2 avian strands, and 5 swine strands. Pigs, sometimes referred to in the epidemiological field as mixing vessels, are ideal hosts for antigenic drift and intermediaries for the emergence of new flus due to their ability to be infected by bird and mammalian flus. They can break the species barrier for flu strains and generate new, potentially dangerous viruses that retain the characteristics of the species-specific flu but are able to infect humans, rendering the standard human flu vaccine ineffective and forcing researchers to develop a new one. This is exactly what the pigs have done recently. Fortunately, an H1N1 vaccine has been produced and is now available at many

local healthcare centers. Not all is resolved, however. As vaccines are not universally available, antiviral drugs have been used in some cases. Although Tamiflu and Relenza operate effectively, inhibiting neurominidase by mimicking sialic acid, H1N1 is resistant to amantadines, and a closely-related strain has developed resistance to Tamiflu. Also, continued antigenic shift and antigenic drift (mutations in individual RNA strands of the H1N1 genome) can cause the development of a virulent strain that resists vaccines and drugs, similar to the deadly Spanish flu of 1918 or the avian flu of 2005. Luckily, the spread of swine flu does not mean giving up bacon for breakfast. Since it is a respiratory disease, H1N1 is spread through sneezing and coughing, the same way that the seasonal flu virus is spread. Simply eating meat won’t result in an infection. Although this disease still remains a threat and an enigma, science is doing its best to combat this ever-changing virus. Until then, pig-kissing is strongly discouraged. References Appenzeller, Tim. “Tracking the Next Killer Flu.” National Geographic Oct. 2005: 2-31. Print.”H1N1 (Swine Flu).” Flu.gov. Web. 27 Nov. 2009. <http://www.flu.gov/individualfamily/about/h1n1/index.html>. “H1N1 Swine Flu Symptoms, Treatment, Pandemic News, Vaccine and Transmission by MedicineNet.com.” Web. 22 Nov. 2009. <http://www. medicinenet.com/swine_flu/page5.htm>. “History Offers Hope Swine Flu Wont Gain Strength in Fall | Wired Science | Wired.com.” Wired News. Web. 22 Nov. 2009. <http://www.wired.com/ wiredscience/2009/08/fluseason/>. Le, Ly, Eric Lee, Klaus Schulten, and Thanh N. Truong. “Molecular modeling of swine influenza A/H1N1, Spanish H1N1, and avian H5N1 flu N1 neuraminidases bound to Tamiflu and Relenza.” PLoS Currents Influenza (2009). National Center for Biotechnology Information. 27 Aug. 2009. Web. 26 Nov. 2009. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/rrn/RRN1015>. “Orthomyxoviruses.” MicrobiologyBytes. Web. 27 Nov. 2009. <http://www. microbiologybytes.com/virology/Orthomyxoviruses.html>. “Sialic Acid.” New Zealand Pharmaceuticals - Home. Web. 27 Nov. 2009. <http://www.nzp.co.nz/products.php?cid=3&pid=256>. “Special Focus – Influenza A (H1N1) -.” Science - Thomson Reuters. Web. 22 Nov. 2009. <http://science.thomsonreuters.com/pharma/h1n1/>. “Swine Flu: How the H1N1 Virus Got Its Start | Newsweek Health | Newsweek.com.” Newsweek - National News, World News, Health, Technology, Entertainment and more... | Newsweek.com. Web. 22 Nov. 2009. <http://www.newsweek.com/id/195692/page/2>.

El Alvi on flickr

by the pathogens and of spreading the disease to others in the population will be reduced. However, that society will end up benefiting from immunizations is not guaranteed. Historically, there have been numerous situations in which vaccinations actually caused injury to its subjects. In other situations, they were ineffective and produced no result other than the squandering of government funds on the high expense of administering immunizations to an entire population. Moreover, even when vaccinations are effective in defending people against a pathogen, there is a lot of debate regarding whether or not these health concerns justify the infringement of the government on the autonomy of individuals over their own bodies.

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cover: Flu

Compulsory Immunizations BY NOOR AL-ALUSI

As children, the vast majority of us detested receiving shots. This innate repulsion can probably be attributed to the fact that we were not too fond of the long, sharp needles that penetrated our skin. The concept of immunization was not very clear to us then—why we had to receive treatment when we felt perfectly healthy just did not make sense. This concept of immunization still does not make sense to many learned adults today. However, a different reason causes adult apprehension. For the most part, children do not understand immunization because they lack of knowledge of the situation, while adults disagree because they are cognizant of the logical flaws in the vindication of compulsory immunization. This article will explore these flaws and other arguments in opposition to compulsory immunization, and will reveal that perhaps our childhood intuitions were correct. But first, here is a brief synopsis on the nature of immunizations. An immunization, also known as a vaccination, works by sensitizing the immune system. The objective of immunization is to defend the body against viral or bacterial infection. The first step is to inject an inducing agent - which may be a weakened viral strain, a small portion of defunct bacterial toxin, or a purified protein - into the bloodstream. Once the inducing agent is in the system, white blood cells called lymphocytes secrete antibodies that mark the agent for elimination. Then, memory cells in the body dedicate this experience to immunological memory. If the person encounters the real pathogen that the inducing agent was representative of, his or her body will have a quick secondary response, which may prevent or ameliorate the effects of infectious disease. The term compulsory immunization refers to governmental policies that enforce vaccination of all people by threatening punishment, such as fines or the withholding of certain privileges. For example, in the United States, children need to be vaccinated against several common infectious diseases before entering school. Of course, the intention of this is very clear; this policy was designed to promote the common good. By ensuring that all people receive this immunizing treatment, the chances of infection

CDC Influenza Laboratory

neuraminidase type 1 (N1). The exact structure of swine flu neuraminidase is unknown, but bears a great similarity to that of avian flu. Neuriminidase is a glycoprotein, or a protein with attached carbohydrate chains, that allows the virus to replicate, release new virons, and infect human cells by cleaving linkages in sialic acid on host cells, which act as receptors and determine the host range for a virus via the specificity of forms of the acid. H1N1 is an influenza A virus, meaning that it is in the class of flu viruses that infects birds and mammals and poses the most serious threat to humans. Like all flu viruses, H1N1 has a segmented genome. In other words, its genetic code is contained in eight separate RNA strands, each of which codes for a distinct polypeptide involved in virus function. When any virus infects its host cell, it injects its genetic material into the host. Once the viral genes take control of the host cell, they begin to replicate and can pick up stray pieces of genetic material in the host cell in the process. In a phenomenon known as antigenic drift, when viruses from two or more different species happen to collect in one cell, they may “reassort” and switch chromosomes to create a new supervirus. The current version of swine flu evolved through this mutation process and is a quadruple reassortant; it contains 1 human RNA strand, 2 avian strands, and 5 swine strands. Pigs, sometimes referred to in the epidemiological field as mixing vessels, are ideal hosts for antigenic drift and intermediaries for the emergence of new flus due to their ability to be infected by bird and mammalian flus. They can break the species barrier for flu strains and generate new, potentially dangerous viruses that retain the characteristics of the species-specific flu but are able to infect humans, rendering the standard human flu vaccine ineffective and forcing researchers to develop a new one. This is exactly what the pigs have done recently. Fortunately, an H1N1 vaccine has been produced and is now available at many

local healthcare centers. Not all is resolved, however. As vaccines are not universally available, antiviral drugs have been used in some cases. Although Tamiflu and Relenza operate effectively, inhibiting neurominidase by mimicking sialic acid, H1N1 is resistant to amantadines, and a closely-related strain has developed resistance to Tamiflu. Also, continued antigenic shift and antigenic drift (mutations in individual RNA strands of the H1N1 genome) can cause the development of a virulent strain that resists vaccines and drugs, similar to the deadly Spanish flu of 1918 or the avian flu of 2005. Luckily, the spread of swine flu does not mean giving up bacon for breakfast. Since it is a respiratory disease, H1N1 is spread through sneezing and coughing, the same way that the seasonal flu virus is spread. Simply eating meat won’t result in an infection. Although this disease still remains a threat and an enigma, science is doing its best to combat this ever-changing virus. Until then, pig-kissing is strongly discouraged. References Appenzeller, Tim. “Tracking the Next Killer Flu.” National Geographic Oct. 2005: 2-31. Print.”H1N1 (Swine Flu).” Flu.gov. Web. 27 Nov. 2009. <http://www.flu.gov/individualfamily/about/h1n1/index.html>. “H1N1 Swine Flu Symptoms, Treatment, Pandemic News, Vaccine and Transmission by MedicineNet.com.” Web. 22 Nov. 2009. <http://www. medicinenet.com/swine_flu/page5.htm>. “History Offers Hope Swine Flu Wont Gain Strength in Fall | Wired Science | Wired.com.” Wired News. Web. 22 Nov. 2009. <http://www.wired.com/ wiredscience/2009/08/fluseason/>. Le, Ly, Eric Lee, Klaus Schulten, and Thanh N. Truong. “Molecular modeling of swine influenza A/H1N1, Spanish H1N1, and avian H5N1 flu N1 neuraminidases bound to Tamiflu and Relenza.” PLoS Currents Influenza (2009). National Center for Biotechnology Information. 27 Aug. 2009. Web. 26 Nov. 2009. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/rrn/RRN1015>. “Orthomyxoviruses.” MicrobiologyBytes. Web. 27 Nov. 2009. <http://www. microbiologybytes.com/virology/Orthomyxoviruses.html>. “Sialic Acid.” New Zealand Pharmaceuticals - Home. Web. 27 Nov. 2009. <http://www.nzp.co.nz/products.php?cid=3&pid=256>. “Special Focus – Influenza A (H1N1) -.” Science - Thomson Reuters. Web. 22 Nov. 2009. <http://science.thomsonreuters.com/pharma/h1n1/>. “Swine Flu: How the H1N1 Virus Got Its Start | Newsweek Health | Newsweek.com.” Newsweek - National News, World News, Health, Technology, Entertainment and more... | Newsweek.com. Web. 22 Nov. 2009. <http://www.newsweek.com/id/195692/page/2>.

El Alvi on flickr

by the pathogens and of spreading the disease to others in the population will be reduced. However, that society will end up benefiting from immunizations is not guaranteed. Historically, there have been numerous situations in which vaccinations actually caused injury to its subjects. In other situations, they were ineffective and produced no result other than the squandering of government funds on the high expense of administering immunizations to an entire population. Moreover, even when vaccinations are effective in defending people against a pathogen, there is a lot of debate regarding whether or not these health concerns justify the infringement of the government on the autonomy of individuals over their own bodies.

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In a contemporary context, this debate is becoming increasingly relevant because of the public concern about the H1N1 virus (swine flu). Should we force all U.S. citizens to receive a vaccine for the H1N1 virus in order to stop its proliferation? Before answering this question, consider the following points: 1. Vaccines are historically unsafe. A few vaccines use thimerosal, which is an ethylmercurybased preservative. This neurotoxin is responsible for the development of various diseases and unfavorable conditions, including autism, multiple sclerosis, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), asthma, bacterial infections, and allergies. Although many people allege that vaccinations are safe and are not responsible for these conditions, the government itself recognized that the vaccinations may have caused these injuries and subsequently established the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program in 1988 to make reparations for them. The VICP has paid nearly $1.2 billion in compensation for bad vaccinations. This suggests that there are indeed possible harms to vaccinations.

cover: Flu

2. Vaccines are not guaranteed to work. While scientific technology in our society is indubitably improving, it still has its deficiencies. The sole requirement for a vaccine to be licensed is its ability to produce antibodies to a particular antigen. The U.S. does not require specific evidence to prove that the vaccine is effective in order for it to be eligible for administration. Although scientists and researchers currently urge the NIH and CDC to conduct a study comparing the health status of a completely unvaccinated population with that of a vaccinated population before a vaccine is distributed, the government ignores this suggestion and continues to administer vaccinations with a blind eye. 3. Compulsory vaccination is a violation of personal autonomy. Mandatory vaccination dictates what people can or cannot do with their bodies. This governmental interference with the bodies of its citizens violates the civil liberties and has many audible opponents. Also, people of various religious denominations dissent with the practice of vaccination on the basis of religious doctrine. The right to compulsory vaccination allows the state to strip these people of their constitutional right to freedom of religion because it is supposedly justified by public health concerns. Although nearly all states allow exemption from vaccination to those who have conflicting religious beliefs, several still exhort these citizens to sacrifice their personal rights for the greater good, which is clearly unconstitutional. 4. The administration of swine flu vaccinations in the past was an “absolute failure”. The swine flu is by no means a completely novel epidemic. It struck before in 1976; vaccinations were hastily

administered. Later, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) discovered that the vaccine was linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, and that some people who received the immunization ultimately died from this fatal neurological disease. It was discovered that the number of deaths resulting from the shot itself exceeded the number of deaths caused by the actual virus. A great number of researchers consider the swine flu immunization program of 1976 an “absolute failure” that ought not to be repeated (Newman, 2009). Clearly, the question of immunization comes with many factors to be considered. The government cannot realistically decide, with one policy, what is best for each individual citizen. Individuals, not the government, should have the right to determine which risks they are willing to take and which sacrifices they are willing to make for their own bodies.

HUMAN BODY

HUMAN BODY

WHO’S IN CONTROL? By Praneet Mylavarapu

GRAPHIC BY MICHELLE OBERMAN

GRAPHIC BY LING JING

References Calandrillo, Steve P. “Vanishing Vaccinations: Why Are So Many Americans Opting Out of Vaccinating Their Children?” University of Michigan Journal of Legal Reform 37:353, 2004. Cassel, Ingri, and Dewey Duffel. “Why the compulsory vaccination laws must be repealed Now.” Idaho Observer Oct. 2006. Print. Ho, Dr. Mae-Wan, and Prof. Joe Cummins. “The Vaccines are Far More Deadly than the Swine Flu.” Institute of Science in Society (2009). Print. “Immunization definition - Medical Dictionary definitions of popular medical terms easily defined on MedTerms.” Medterms.com. 26 Mar. 1998. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp? articlekey=3909>. Newman, Alex. The New American. Swine Flu: The Risks and Efficacy of Vaccines. October 14, 2009. http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/ usnews/health-care/ 2079-swine-flu- the-risks-and-efficacy-of-vaccines. Smith, M. Craig. “A Bad Reaction: A Look at the Arkansas General Assembly’s Response to McCathy v. Boozman and Boone v. Boozman,” Arkansas Law Review 58:251, 2005. “Vaccination.” Wikipedia.org. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Vaccination>.

The saying “you know yourself the best” may not be true anymore, for science begs to differ.

Did you really choose to take the longer path back to class? Did you really decide to buy that cookie during lunch? Did you even choose to read this article? A recent study at Max Planck Institute reveals that we may not have as much control over our actions as we think we do. Whether you decide to drop this magazine here and never touch it again or to continue reading, your decision was made seven to eight seconds before you were consciously aware of it. As frightening as it may sound, this new discovery may reveal that the notion of freewill is a mere illusion. After years of ignorance, are we actually only doomed prisoners of our own brains? The brain, a three pound mass of tissue, has been at the center of scientific inquisition for centuries, yet we still do not know exactly how and why we do the things the way we do. Why do some people believe in superstitions? Why do you drink that soda even though you know you shouldn’t? The answers are hidden in the depths of our unconscious. Sigmund Freud, a prominent neurologist and psychotherapist, first suggested peering into the unconscious in the late nineteenth century. He believed that things beyond our control, like addictions and sudden impulses, had roots deep in our unconscious thoughts and that dreams were the windows into this otherwise hidden realm. Although Freud’s simplistic approach to the brain has since been disproved, his ideas may have been in the right direction. John-Dylan Haynes, a neuroscientist at Max Planck Institute, conducted an investigation in which he observed subjects making a simple decision— whether to press a button with their left or right hands. He then monitored their brain activity with a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine. He observed that activity shifted in their frontopolar cortex, a region of the brain associated with planning, seven seconds before the subjects chose to push the button. Soon, activity was observed in the parietal cortex, a region responsible for sensory integration, or the coordination, processing, and response to sensory input. After monitoring the shift in neural activity, Haynes was able to accurately predict the subject’s decision seconds before it actually occurred. Although Haynes’ fMRI predictions have only succeeded with simple decisions, and have not proven to be applicable with more dynamic decisions, the results reveal important information that could potentially open up a new road for scientists and psychologists alike.

14

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In a contemporary context, this debate is becoming increasingly relevant because of the public concern about the H1N1 virus (swine flu). Should we force all U.S. citizens to receive a vaccine for the H1N1 virus in order to stop its proliferation? Before answering this question, consider the following points: 1. Vaccines are historically unsafe. A few vaccines use thimerosal, which is an ethylmercurybased preservative. This neurotoxin is responsible for the development of various diseases and unfavorable conditions, including autism, multiple sclerosis, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), asthma, bacterial infections, and allergies. Although many people allege that vaccinations are safe and are not responsible for these conditions, the government itself recognized that the vaccinations may have caused these injuries and subsequently established the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program in 1988 to make reparations for them. The VICP has paid nearly $1.2 billion in compensation for bad vaccinations. This suggests that there are indeed possible harms to vaccinations.

cover: Flu

2. Vaccines are not guaranteed to work. While scientific technology in our society is indubitably improving, it still has its deficiencies. The sole requirement for a vaccine to be licensed is its ability to produce antibodies to a particular antigen. The U.S. does not require specific evidence to prove that the vaccine is effective in order for it to be eligible for administration. Although scientists and researchers currently urge the NIH and CDC to conduct a study comparing the health status of a completely unvaccinated population with that of a vaccinated population before a vaccine is distributed, the government ignores this suggestion and continues to administer vaccinations with a blind eye. 3. Compulsory vaccination is a violation of personal autonomy. Mandatory vaccination dictates what people can or cannot do with their bodies. This governmental interference with the bodies of its citizens violates the civil liberties and has many audible opponents. Also, people of various religious denominations dissent with the practice of vaccination on the basis of religious doctrine. The right to compulsory vaccination allows the state to strip these people of their constitutional right to freedom of religion because it is supposedly justified by public health concerns. Although nearly all states allow exemption from vaccination to those who have conflicting religious beliefs, several still exhort these citizens to sacrifice their personal rights for the greater good, which is clearly unconstitutional. 4. The administration of swine flu vaccinations in the past was an “absolute failure”. The swine flu is by no means a completely novel epidemic. It struck before in 1976; vaccinations were hastily

administered. Later, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) discovered that the vaccine was linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, and that some people who received the immunization ultimately died from this fatal neurological disease. It was discovered that the number of deaths resulting from the shot itself exceeded the number of deaths caused by the actual virus. A great number of researchers consider the swine flu immunization program of 1976 an “absolute failure” that ought not to be repeated (Newman, 2009). Clearly, the question of immunization comes with many factors to be considered. The government cannot realistically decide, with one policy, what is best for each individual citizen. Individuals, not the government, should have the right to determine which risks they are willing to take and which sacrifices they are willing to make for their own bodies.

HUMAN BODY

HUMAN BODY

WHO’S IN CONTROL? By Praneet Mylavarapu

GRAPHIC BY MICHELLE OBERMAN

GRAPHIC BY LING JING

References Calandrillo, Steve P. “Vanishing Vaccinations: Why Are So Many Americans Opting Out of Vaccinating Their Children?” University of Michigan Journal of Legal Reform 37:353, 2004. Cassel, Ingri, and Dewey Duffel. “Why the compulsory vaccination laws must be repealed Now.” Idaho Observer Oct. 2006. Print. Ho, Dr. Mae-Wan, and Prof. Joe Cummins. “The Vaccines are Far More Deadly than the Swine Flu.” Institute of Science in Society (2009). Print. “Immunization definition - Medical Dictionary definitions of popular medical terms easily defined on MedTerms.” Medterms.com. 26 Mar. 1998. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp? articlekey=3909>. Newman, Alex. The New American. Swine Flu: The Risks and Efficacy of Vaccines. October 14, 2009. http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/ usnews/health-care/ 2079-swine-flu- the-risks-and-efficacy-of-vaccines. Smith, M. Craig. “A Bad Reaction: A Look at the Arkansas General Assembly’s Response to McCathy v. Boozman and Boone v. Boozman,” Arkansas Law Review 58:251, 2005. “Vaccination.” Wikipedia.org. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Vaccination>.

The saying “you know yourself the best” may not be true anymore, for science begs to differ.

Did you really choose to take the longer path back to class? Did you really decide to buy that cookie during lunch? Did you even choose to read this article? A recent study at Max Planck Institute reveals that we may not have as much control over our actions as we think we do. Whether you decide to drop this magazine here and never touch it again or to continue reading, your decision was made seven to eight seconds before you were consciously aware of it. As frightening as it may sound, this new discovery may reveal that the notion of freewill is a mere illusion. After years of ignorance, are we actually only doomed prisoners of our own brains? The brain, a three pound mass of tissue, has been at the center of scientific inquisition for centuries, yet we still do not know exactly how and why we do the things the way we do. Why do some people believe in superstitions? Why do you drink that soda even though you know you shouldn’t? The answers are hidden in the depths of our unconscious. Sigmund Freud, a prominent neurologist and psychotherapist, first suggested peering into the unconscious in the late nineteenth century. He believed that things beyond our control, like addictions and sudden impulses, had roots deep in our unconscious thoughts and that dreams were the windows into this otherwise hidden realm. Although Freud’s simplistic approach to the brain has since been disproved, his ideas may have been in the right direction. John-Dylan Haynes, a neuroscientist at Max Planck Institute, conducted an investigation in which he observed subjects making a simple decision— whether to press a button with their left or right hands. He then monitored their brain activity with a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine. He observed that activity shifted in their frontopolar cortex, a region of the brain associated with planning, seven seconds before the subjects chose to push the button. Soon, activity was observed in the parietal cortex, a region responsible for sensory integration, or the coordination, processing, and response to sensory input. After monitoring the shift in neural activity, Haynes was able to accurately predict the subject’s decision seconds before it actually occurred. Although Haynes’ fMRI predictions have only succeeded with simple decisions, and have not proven to be applicable with more dynamic decisions, the results reveal important information that could potentially open up a new road for scientists and psychologists alike.

14

9 2 Even Page

15

Job # x8190

HJ

School xTorrey Pines High School

Template Template

Special Instructions

WICS20701L

©2006 Herff Jones, Inc., All Rights Reserved

Black Ink

HJ

Includes Spot Color(s)

Process 4-Color (CMYK)

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3

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Black Ink

Includes Spot Color(s)

Process 4-Color (CMYK)

Odd Page


Haynes believes that although most decision making occurs in the unconscious seconds before it is carried out, there may still be a part of the conscious responsible for enacting the choice. He admits, “We can’t rule out that there’s a free will that kicks in at this late point.” Yet he also adds, “But I don’t think it’s plausible.” If Haynes is correct, we may have to look at the brain and our conscious from a completely new perspective. We are only in control of our conscious self, and our conscious self is only aware of a small fraction of what the brain is doing at any moment. Further research indicates that our conscious may be even less in control than Haynes suggested. When you stop at a red light or steer around an obstacle in the road, you don’t consciously think about what you’re doing. Instead, your brain makes decisions without your knowledge, and studies suggest it tends to make the right ones. Lex Pouget, associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, conducted a simple experiment in which he tested the ability of the unconscious to make a decision. He presented subjects with a computer screen in which many dots moved in random directions, but a select few moved together in a specific direction. He then asked the subjects whether the select dots moved to the left or right of the screen. According to Pouget, the longer a subject looked at the dots, the more information he gathered and the surer he became of his decision. For the subject, it was suddenly clear which direction the dots were moving towards. Little did he know that his brain had accumulated information about the dots subconsciously until it met a confidence threshold, at which point it transmitted the answer to the conscious mind as a definite answer. Instead of experiencing the complex calculations performed in the subconscious, the subject simply felt as though he realized the answer spontaneously. What occurs in the subconscious is a series of neuron impulses that determines whether or not the conscious mind realizes the answer. As sensory input is transmitted from the primary visual cortex, a series of neurons coded for either rightward or leftward movement fire. The conscious doesn’t become aware until the threshold of neuron activity is overcome. So, until a certain number of “rightward” or “leftward” neurons fire, the answer isn’t sent to the conscious mind and the subject has no clue as to which way the dots are moving. Until the calculations are performed and the threshold is met, the subject is completely in the dark, not knowing what is happening except that he is thinking about the answer. In essence, we are completely unaware of the thousands of calculations that are performed in our unconscious in a fraction of a second. It you’re still reading this article, it means that the reasons to keep reading outweighed the reasons

original research

GRAPHIC BY PAUL HO

Superheated Drop Detectors: A Method of “Hearing” Dark Matter

BY Siddhartho Bhattacharya

PHOTO BY AMANDA YUAN

to put it down. And if Hayne’s theory is correct, it’s your unconscious that made that decision for you. But the question now is how. Our experiences, our knowledge, and our values are all registered somewhere in our brain, often without our knowing. We make decisions based on the endless archive of memories and facts that are stored within our head. You may have chosen to keep reading this article because it sounded interesting to you, or maybe simply because you were bored. But upon making that seemingly insignificant decision, your brain “thought” about everything. Do I have enough time to read this? What will I gain? Am I interested? Would I rather do something else? After considering all these things, in a matter of milliseconds, it comes up with a conclusion based on that endless archive of selective memories and experiences. Those memories, values, and experiences may define us, but that does not mean that we had any conscious control in choosing them.

Ever since the groundbreaking discovery that the universe is comprised of only 4.6% “normal” matter that we see and interact with everyday, scientists have been searching for an explanation as to where the other 94.6% of the matter is. This search for the missing matter in the universe has led to the theory of dark matter, a substance that does not interact directly with light or ordinary matter, making it extremely difficult to observe. In the Cold Dark Matter (CDM) theory, a small fraction of dark matter is said to consist of Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs). These WIMPs are extremely massive (about 1000 times the mass of a proton) and have low energy. These particles consist of baryonic matter, which is composed of particles that can be detected and do interact with matter, although weakly. Yet how can such a particle be detected? How can a substance that has eluded many attempts of analysis be once and for all revealed? Several experiments that attempt to detect these WIMPs are currently underway. The objective of these experiments is to detect the nuclear recoils caused by interaction of WIMPs with the atoms in the detector material. During an internship at the SAHA Institute of Nuclear Physics in Kolkata, India, I used one method of detecting these interactions. This method used Superheated Drop Detectors (SDDs), which are containers filled with a medium (usually a polymer or gel) in which many droplets of low-boiling point liquid are pressurized and injected. As a result, these liquid drops are forced to remain liquid and become superheated. In this meta-stable state, the drops require only a very small amount of energy in order to be vaporized. When particles such as neutrons or high-energy photons come into contact with these droplets, they create bubbles of gas, indicating that a weakly-interacting particle has passed. Yet what is truly marvelous about this detector is how it analyzes these bubbles of gas. Rather than counting or measuring the gas content of the bubbles, the SDD actually “hears” the creation of the gas bubble. The creation of these gas bubbles is an intricate process, and is key in the SDD’s method of detecting dark matter. When a particle (such as a neutron) passes through a droplet, it makes an elastic collision with the nucleus of an atom in the droplet.

The kinetic energy of the particle is transferred to the nucleus; the nucleus then dissipates the energy in the droplet. A photon, however, interacts similarly with an electron rather than the nucleus of the atom. If the dissipated energy of a collision is above a certain threshold value, some molecules of the liquid transition to the vapor phase, forming a micro bubble inside the droplet. The energy must be high enough to allow the micro bubble to reach a critical radius, without which the bubble could not expand further and would eventually recollapse into the liquid state due to surface tension. If the bubble reaches this critical radius, it rapidly expands, evaporating the nearby liquid until it converts the entire droplet into vapor. This entire process takes about 10 nanoseconds, and this rapid expansion of gas creates an acoustic signal – a sound wave – that can be detected by a condenser microphone. In fact, the frequency range of most of these signals is within the audible range of the human ear, and can be heard as a slight popping sound if the droplets are very close to the ear. The condenser microphones attached to the detector capture these sound waves and convert them to electrical signals. For my lab, the experimental setup consisted of a sample of the detector being tested to determine the sensitivity towards neutron detection from a Californium source (252Cf). The sample was placed in a beaker of water which was wrapped in heatgenerating coils in order to maintain a relatively constant temperature. The sample was then capped with a condenser microphone, which sensed the acoustic signals give off by the detector and converted it into electrical signals. These signals recorded by the oscilloscope, which then recorded their amplitude and frequency by measuring voltage and time. Finally, all this information was used to plot a Pvar value, which is helpful for determining the characteristics of the particle that created a particular signal. The Pvar value is calculated by first finding the sum of the squares of the amplitudes; this sum is dubbed P. Pvar is then found by taking the log10P and multiplying the result by the time interval of the pulse. This final Pvar value is highly useful in categorizing signals. By taking measurements of controlled sources of radiation – such as neutrons, gamma rays, and alpha particles – and plotting their Pvar values, signals can be quickly matched to the particles which produced them. For example, signals caused by gamma ray emission have been shown to exhibit low Pvar values, while high Pvar values are characteristic of signals caused by neutrons. The data collected can then be analyzed accordingly to determine if the signal was produced by known particles such as neutrons, gamma rays etc, or by some unknown source, possibly dark matter. Like other methods, this technique is not flawless

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Haynes believes that although most decision making occurs in the unconscious seconds before it is carried out, there may still be a part of the conscious responsible for enacting the choice. He admits, “We can’t rule out that there’s a free will that kicks in at this late point.” Yet he also adds, “But I don’t think it’s plausible.” If Haynes is correct, we may have to look at the brain and our conscious from a completely new perspective. We are only in control of our conscious self, and our conscious self is only aware of a small fraction of what the brain is doing at any moment. Further research indicates that our conscious may be even less in control than Haynes suggested. When you stop at a red light or steer around an obstacle in the road, you don’t consciously think about what you’re doing. Instead, your brain makes decisions without your knowledge, and studies suggest it tends to make the right ones. Lex Pouget, associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, conducted a simple experiment in which he tested the ability of the unconscious to make a decision. He presented subjects with a computer screen in which many dots moved in random directions, but a select few moved together in a specific direction. He then asked the subjects whether the select dots moved to the left or right of the screen. According to Pouget, the longer a subject looked at the dots, the more information he gathered and the surer he became of his decision. For the subject, it was suddenly clear which direction the dots were moving towards. Little did he know that his brain had accumulated information about the dots subconsciously until it met a confidence threshold, at which point it transmitted the answer to the conscious mind as a definite answer. Instead of experiencing the complex calculations performed in the subconscious, the subject simply felt as though he realized the answer spontaneously. What occurs in the subconscious is a series of neuron impulses that determines whether or not the conscious mind realizes the answer. As sensory input is transmitted from the primary visual cortex, a series of neurons coded for either rightward or leftward movement fire. The conscious doesn’t become aware until the threshold of neuron activity is overcome. So, until a certain number of “rightward” or “leftward” neurons fire, the answer isn’t sent to the conscious mind and the subject has no clue as to which way the dots are moving. Until the calculations are performed and the threshold is met, the subject is completely in the dark, not knowing what is happening except that he is thinking about the answer. In essence, we are completely unaware of the thousands of calculations that are performed in our unconscious in a fraction of a second. It you’re still reading this article, it means that the reasons to keep reading outweighed the reasons

original research

GRAPHIC BY PAUL HO

Superheated Drop Detectors: A Method of “Hearing” Dark Matter

BY Siddhartho Bhattacharya

PHOTO BY AMANDA YUAN

to put it down. And if Hayne’s theory is correct, it’s your unconscious that made that decision for you. But the question now is how. Our experiences, our knowledge, and our values are all registered somewhere in our brain, often without our knowing. We make decisions based on the endless archive of memories and facts that are stored within our head. You may have chosen to keep reading this article because it sounded interesting to you, or maybe simply because you were bored. But upon making that seemingly insignificant decision, your brain “thought” about everything. Do I have enough time to read this? What will I gain? Am I interested? Would I rather do something else? After considering all these things, in a matter of milliseconds, it comes up with a conclusion based on that endless archive of selective memories and experiences. Those memories, values, and experiences may define us, but that does not mean that we had any conscious control in choosing them.

Ever since the groundbreaking discovery that the universe is comprised of only 4.6% “normal” matter that we see and interact with everyday, scientists have been searching for an explanation as to where the other 94.6% of the matter is. This search for the missing matter in the universe has led to the theory of dark matter, a substance that does not interact directly with light or ordinary matter, making it extremely difficult to observe. In the Cold Dark Matter (CDM) theory, a small fraction of dark matter is said to consist of Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs). These WIMPs are extremely massive (about 1000 times the mass of a proton) and have low energy. These particles consist of baryonic matter, which is composed of particles that can be detected and do interact with matter, although weakly. Yet how can such a particle be detected? How can a substance that has eluded many attempts of analysis be once and for all revealed? Several experiments that attempt to detect these WIMPs are currently underway. The objective of these experiments is to detect the nuclear recoils caused by interaction of WIMPs with the atoms in the detector material. During an internship at the SAHA Institute of Nuclear Physics in Kolkata, India, I used one method of detecting these interactions. This method used Superheated Drop Detectors (SDDs), which are containers filled with a medium (usually a polymer or gel) in which many droplets of low-boiling point liquid are pressurized and injected. As a result, these liquid drops are forced to remain liquid and become superheated. In this meta-stable state, the drops require only a very small amount of energy in order to be vaporized. When particles such as neutrons or high-energy photons come into contact with these droplets, they create bubbles of gas, indicating that a weakly-interacting particle has passed. Yet what is truly marvelous about this detector is how it analyzes these bubbles of gas. Rather than counting or measuring the gas content of the bubbles, the SDD actually “hears” the creation of the gas bubble. The creation of these gas bubbles is an intricate process, and is key in the SDD’s method of detecting dark matter. When a particle (such as a neutron) passes through a droplet, it makes an elastic collision with the nucleus of an atom in the droplet.

The kinetic energy of the particle is transferred to the nucleus; the nucleus then dissipates the energy in the droplet. A photon, however, interacts similarly with an electron rather than the nucleus of the atom. If the dissipated energy of a collision is above a certain threshold value, some molecules of the liquid transition to the vapor phase, forming a micro bubble inside the droplet. The energy must be high enough to allow the micro bubble to reach a critical radius, without which the bubble could not expand further and would eventually recollapse into the liquid state due to surface tension. If the bubble reaches this critical radius, it rapidly expands, evaporating the nearby liquid until it converts the entire droplet into vapor. This entire process takes about 10 nanoseconds, and this rapid expansion of gas creates an acoustic signal – a sound wave – that can be detected by a condenser microphone. In fact, the frequency range of most of these signals is within the audible range of the human ear, and can be heard as a slight popping sound if the droplets are very close to the ear. The condenser microphones attached to the detector capture these sound waves and convert them to electrical signals. For my lab, the experimental setup consisted of a sample of the detector being tested to determine the sensitivity towards neutron detection from a Californium source (252Cf). The sample was placed in a beaker of water which was wrapped in heatgenerating coils in order to maintain a relatively constant temperature. The sample was then capped with a condenser microphone, which sensed the acoustic signals give off by the detector and converted it into electrical signals. These signals recorded by the oscilloscope, which then recorded their amplitude and frequency by measuring voltage and time. Finally, all this information was used to plot a Pvar value, which is helpful for determining the characteristics of the particle that created a particular signal. The Pvar value is calculated by first finding the sum of the squares of the amplitudes; this sum is dubbed P. Pvar is then found by taking the log10P and multiplying the result by the time interval of the pulse. This final Pvar value is highly useful in categorizing signals. By taking measurements of controlled sources of radiation – such as neutrons, gamma rays, and alpha particles – and plotting their Pvar values, signals can be quickly matched to the particles which produced them. For example, signals caused by gamma ray emission have been shown to exhibit low Pvar values, while high Pvar values are characteristic of signals caused by neutrons. The data collected can then be analyzed accordingly to determine if the signal was produced by known particles such as neutrons, gamma rays etc, or by some unknown source, possibly dark matter. Like other methods, this technique is not flawless

16

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HJ

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Special Instructions

WICS20701L

©2006 Herff Jones, Inc., All Rights Reserved

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and is continuously being changed and improved. Currently, new research and development is under way to perfect this method of detection by reducing background radiation emanating from the medium of the detector. This will help differentiate the signals given by neutrons, alpha particles, gamma rays, and other background, thereby increasing the likelihood of dark matter detection. The current model of the detector uses a certain polymer as the medium for containing the droplets used in the detector. New types of mediums are being tested to decrease detector sensitivity toward certain particles in an effort to further pinpoint and filter out various background radiations, thereby clearing the way for dark matter detection. One such experiment is using a new glycerin based polymer, as opposed to the glycol based polymer currently being used in SNOLab (Sudbury Neutrino Observatory) in Canada. The new polymer is currently being tested and researched, and will hopefully provide a more efficient and precise method of sorting through the background radiation that the detectors receive. Tests have shown that the radioactive count of the new polymer is significantly lower than the current one, meaning that it minimizes signals from within the detector and is therefore much more effective at detecting dark matter. Yet another new development is a method to increase the lifespan of these detectors by reforming the droplets after they have become bubbles. Every time a signal is detected, one droplet is converted into a bubble and cannot be used again. Therefore, the number of signals a detector can sense is limited to the number of droplets placed within the detector. After the majority of droplets have formed bubbles, the detector must be substituted with a new one replenished with superheated drops. Research aims to reduce this need by re-pressurizing the system to compress the bubbles into the liquid droplets once more, effectively doubling the lifetime of the detector. An important thing to keep in mind is that the concept of WIMPs is still only a theory, and despite hard efforts, SDD’s may never detect dark matter. In fact, dark matter may consist of a completely different variety of particles, or may not even consist of particles at all! However, until more information is uncovered, scientists will continue to try and detect the elusive constituent of the universe, with the aid of new and innovative methods such as the SDD. For complete lab report, please visit www.falconium.org Many thanks and appreciation to Dr. Mala Das for taking the time to serve as a guide throughout the project and provide knowledge necessary for understanding the subject.

ANTITHROMBIN III

BY ELORA LOPEZ

February 6, 2009 was a historic day in the world of biochemistry. It was this day that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), following the lead of the European Medicines Agency, approved ATryn, the first biological drug produced by transgenic animals. Having been approved by two of the world’s most influential drug regulators, ATryn is now in the international spotlight. Although people may have heard that this drug is produced from goat milk, few know about the serious health condition that this drug helps to prevent, how it is made, or how it helps to prevent the aforementioned health condition. Blood clots are often necessary for survival when a person is injured, preventing the loss of blood. The coagulation cascade is a series of chemical reactions involving numerous factors that contribute to the blood-clotting process. Coagulation begins with either an extrinsic or intrinsic factor. An extrinsic factor, such as a cut on the arm, is a break in the endothelial lining of a vessel (the outer lining), whereas an intrinsic factor is damage to the internal lining of the vessel, such as endothelial lesions. In some cases, the coagulation cascade can occur even if no external or internal factor is activated. When this happens, regulatory mechanisms called protease inhibitors neutralize blood coagulation enzymes, basically preventing the enzymes from making the blood clot. Antithrombin III is the most important and significant of these, because it inhibits the key blood coagulation factors thrombin, Factor Xa, factor IXa, and Factor XIa. Sometimes, however, a person will have a lower than normal amount of a regulatory mechanism in their bloodstream. In these cases, coagulation can occur even if unnecessary and proceed without inhibition. This may cause either thrombosis or disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), both of which create clots in blood vessels and obstruct the normal blood flow through a blood vessel. Both of these conditions can be lethal. Since antithrombin III is the most important regulatory mechanism of the coagulation cascade, people with a hereditary deficiency of antithrombin III are at an especially great risk of having problems with their blood vessels, including an increased risk of developing thrombosis and DIC. People with antithrombin III deficiency are predisposed to more cases of thrombosis than those deficient in other regulatory mechanisms, such as protein C and protein S. A study conducted by the Department of Hematology at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands found that people without a regulatory mechanism deficiency who had histories of thrombosis had an annual recurrent thrombosis incidence rate of 1.0%, while people with

protein C, protein S, and antithrombin III deficiencies had annual recurrent thrombosis incidence rates of 6.0%, 8.4%, and 10.0%, respectively. The risk of thrombosis increases even more when people with antithrombin deficiency are put in “high-risk situations.” The two most notable of these situations are surgery and pregnancy, especially during labor and the delivery of the baby. Surgery amplifies the thrombosis risk because there is often a loss of blood. Surgeries that are especially risky involve tissue damage and hemorrhaging. Similarly, coagulation factors increase during pregnancy, resulting in a hypercoagulable state with a higher risk of blood clotting. During a high-risk situation, people with antithrombin III deficiency are 10 to 50 times more likely to develop thrombosis than the normal population. In the early 1990s, Genzyme Transgenics (now GTC Biotherapeutics) developed a program with the objective of producing proteins that could be used as drugs. This program involves using transgenic goats to produce regulatory proteins in their milk, and then creating drugs from the goat-made protein. These drugs would then be used to prevent thrombosis in people with antithrombin III deficiency. The idea of creating transgenic drugs was conceived in the 1980’s, in response to the challenges that scientists encountered when they attempted to create proteins. Getting proteins to fold in the correct shape and placing all the sugars on the appropriate places of the amino acids proved to be difficult. Vats of mammalian cells were used to produce proteins, but this method was time-consuming, expensive, and produced a very small yield of protein (Stix 102). Scientists recognized that it was time for a new method of producing proteins, which prompted GTC Biotherapeutics to develop their goat protein program. In the beginning, GTC injected the human AT (antithrombin III-containing) gene into the nucleus of a single-celled goat embryo, along with the DNA that would allow the activation of the gene in the milk. These transgenic goats were later bred with nontransgenic goats to create a herd of antithrombin-producing goats. These transgenic goats were milked regularly, and then their milk was separated in order to obtain the purified antithrombin. The antithrombin produced by these transgenic goats is often called recombinant human antithrombin (rhAT). The antithrombin produced in transgenic goat’s milk (rhAT) and the antithrombin produced naturally in human blood (hpAT) have structurally identical amino acid sequences. They also have the same chemical formula, C2191H3457N583O656S18. However, the rhAT monosaccharide composition is slightly altered from that of hpAT, due to the protein’s origin: goat milk. Goat mammary glands (the glands responsible for producing milk) produce the same sugars as the human body, but the goat mammary glands do so with less sialation. This reduced sialation in the production in rhAT contributes to the altered carbohydrate structure. It has

been determined in several different laboratories that the differences in the carbohydrate structures in rhAT do not affect the thrombin inhibition rate. This suggests that the carbohydrate chains do not affect the functions of antithrombin III. ATryn is the trade name of the recombinant antithrombin protein made by GTC Biotherapeutics, Inc. It is produced as a powder containing rhAT, glycine, sodium chloride, and sodium citrate. When it is needed for use by humans, the powder is reconstituted with sterile water. The drug can then be injected into the patient. ATryn is used to prevent thrombosis during surgeries, pregnancies, and labor in people with hereditary antithrombin deficiency (whose antithrombin level is less than 60% of the normal level). The goal of the treatment is to keep the antithrombin activity levels between 80% and 120% of the normal levels. The FDA’s approval of ATryn to be used in the United States to prevent life-threatening thrombosis in people with hereditary antithrombin III deficiency has several impacts. First, it paves the way for other drug companies that wish to create new drugs by using transgenic animals. Being the first company to produce a drug by using transgenic animals and to have that drug approved by the FDA, GTC Biotherapeutics technology is currently considered to be novel and cutting edge. Hopefully, now that one company has proven to the world that drugs made from the milk of transgenic goats can be successful, other companies will follow suit and invest in producing their own drugs by using transgenic animals. In this way, drug production will be more cost-effective and more efficient; no longer will companies have to manufacture drugs in small batches and quantities. ATryn is also of great significance to the medical world because of its status as an “orphan drug,” meaning that it is a drug designed with the specific function of preventing thrombosis during high-risk situations. Once it is available and used in people with hereditary antithrombin III deficiency, it will temporarily restore their body’s regular maintenance and control of the coagulation cascade, and hopefully reduce the risk of thrombosis during surgery and pregnancy. Thus, the production and FDA approval of ATryn has opened doors for further transgenic research and represents a significant risk reduction for people affected by antithrombin III deficiency. References Bauer, K.A. “Management of patients with hereditary defects predisposing to thrombosis including pregnant women.” Thromb Haemost 74.1 (1995): 94-100. Brouwer, Jan-Leendert P. et al. “High long-term absolute risk of recurrent venous thromboembolism in patients with hereditary deficiencies of protein S, protein C or antithrombin.” Schattauer 101.1 (2009): 93-99. Bucur SZ, Levy JH, Despotis GJ, Spiess BD, Hillyer CD. “Uses of antithrombin III concentrate in congenital and acquired deficiency states.” Transfusion 38.5 (1998): 481- 498. Highlights of Prescribing Information. GTC Biotherapeutics, Inc. 3 February 2009. Newberry, Thomas. E-mail interview. 1 March 2009. Stix, Gary. “The Land of Milk and Money.” Scientific American 293.5 (2005): 102-105. “Structural Characteristics of rhAT and hpAT.” GTC-Biotherapeutics. 2007. 28 February 2009. <http://www.atiii.com/treatopts.htm>.

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and is continuously being changed and improved. Currently, new research and development is under way to perfect this method of detection by reducing background radiation emanating from the medium of the detector. This will help differentiate the signals given by neutrons, alpha particles, gamma rays, and other background, thereby increasing the likelihood of dark matter detection. The current model of the detector uses a certain polymer as the medium for containing the droplets used in the detector. New types of mediums are being tested to decrease detector sensitivity toward certain particles in an effort to further pinpoint and filter out various background radiations, thereby clearing the way for dark matter detection. One such experiment is using a new glycerin based polymer, as opposed to the glycol based polymer currently being used in SNOLab (Sudbury Neutrino Observatory) in Canada. The new polymer is currently being tested and researched, and will hopefully provide a more efficient and precise method of sorting through the background radiation that the detectors receive. Tests have shown that the radioactive count of the new polymer is significantly lower than the current one, meaning that it minimizes signals from within the detector and is therefore much more effective at detecting dark matter. Yet another new development is a method to increase the lifespan of these detectors by reforming the droplets after they have become bubbles. Every time a signal is detected, one droplet is converted into a bubble and cannot be used again. Therefore, the number of signals a detector can sense is limited to the number of droplets placed within the detector. After the majority of droplets have formed bubbles, the detector must be substituted with a new one replenished with superheated drops. Research aims to reduce this need by re-pressurizing the system to compress the bubbles into the liquid droplets once more, effectively doubling the lifetime of the detector. An important thing to keep in mind is that the concept of WIMPs is still only a theory, and despite hard efforts, SDD’s may never detect dark matter. In fact, dark matter may consist of a completely different variety of particles, or may not even consist of particles at all! However, until more information is uncovered, scientists will continue to try and detect the elusive constituent of the universe, with the aid of new and innovative methods such as the SDD. For complete lab report, please visit www.falconium.org Many thanks and appreciation to Dr. Mala Das for taking the time to serve as a guide throughout the project and provide knowledge necessary for understanding the subject.

ANTITHROMBIN III

BY ELORA LOPEZ

February 6, 2009 was a historic day in the world of biochemistry. It was this day that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), following the lead of the European Medicines Agency, approved ATryn, the first biological drug produced by transgenic animals. Having been approved by two of the world’s most influential drug regulators, ATryn is now in the international spotlight. Although people may have heard that this drug is produced from goat milk, few know about the serious health condition that this drug helps to prevent, how it is made, or how it helps to prevent the aforementioned health condition. Blood clots are often necessary for survival when a person is injured, preventing the loss of blood. The coagulation cascade is a series of chemical reactions involving numerous factors that contribute to the blood-clotting process. Coagulation begins with either an extrinsic or intrinsic factor. An extrinsic factor, such as a cut on the arm, is a break in the endothelial lining of a vessel (the outer lining), whereas an intrinsic factor is damage to the internal lining of the vessel, such as endothelial lesions. In some cases, the coagulation cascade can occur even if no external or internal factor is activated. When this happens, regulatory mechanisms called protease inhibitors neutralize blood coagulation enzymes, basically preventing the enzymes from making the blood clot. Antithrombin III is the most important and significant of these, because it inhibits the key blood coagulation factors thrombin, Factor Xa, factor IXa, and Factor XIa. Sometimes, however, a person will have a lower than normal amount of a regulatory mechanism in their bloodstream. In these cases, coagulation can occur even if unnecessary and proceed without inhibition. This may cause either thrombosis or disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), both of which create clots in blood vessels and obstruct the normal blood flow through a blood vessel. Both of these conditions can be lethal. Since antithrombin III is the most important regulatory mechanism of the coagulation cascade, people with a hereditary deficiency of antithrombin III are at an especially great risk of having problems with their blood vessels, including an increased risk of developing thrombosis and DIC. People with antithrombin III deficiency are predisposed to more cases of thrombosis than those deficient in other regulatory mechanisms, such as protein C and protein S. A study conducted by the Department of Hematology at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands found that people without a regulatory mechanism deficiency who had histories of thrombosis had an annual recurrent thrombosis incidence rate of 1.0%, while people with

protein C, protein S, and antithrombin III deficiencies had annual recurrent thrombosis incidence rates of 6.0%, 8.4%, and 10.0%, respectively. The risk of thrombosis increases even more when people with antithrombin deficiency are put in “high-risk situations.” The two most notable of these situations are surgery and pregnancy, especially during labor and the delivery of the baby. Surgery amplifies the thrombosis risk because there is often a loss of blood. Surgeries that are especially risky involve tissue damage and hemorrhaging. Similarly, coagulation factors increase during pregnancy, resulting in a hypercoagulable state with a higher risk of blood clotting. During a high-risk situation, people with antithrombin III deficiency are 10 to 50 times more likely to develop thrombosis than the normal population. In the early 1990s, Genzyme Transgenics (now GTC Biotherapeutics) developed a program with the objective of producing proteins that could be used as drugs. This program involves using transgenic goats to produce regulatory proteins in their milk, and then creating drugs from the goat-made protein. These drugs would then be used to prevent thrombosis in people with antithrombin III deficiency. The idea of creating transgenic drugs was conceived in the 1980’s, in response to the challenges that scientists encountered when they attempted to create proteins. Getting proteins to fold in the correct shape and placing all the sugars on the appropriate places of the amino acids proved to be difficult. Vats of mammalian cells were used to produce proteins, but this method was time-consuming, expensive, and produced a very small yield of protein (Stix 102). Scientists recognized that it was time for a new method of producing proteins, which prompted GTC Biotherapeutics to develop their goat protein program. In the beginning, GTC injected the human AT (antithrombin III-containing) gene into the nucleus of a single-celled goat embryo, along with the DNA that would allow the activation of the gene in the milk. These transgenic goats were later bred with nontransgenic goats to create a herd of antithrombin-producing goats. These transgenic goats were milked regularly, and then their milk was separated in order to obtain the purified antithrombin. The antithrombin produced by these transgenic goats is often called recombinant human antithrombin (rhAT). The antithrombin produced in transgenic goat’s milk (rhAT) and the antithrombin produced naturally in human blood (hpAT) have structurally identical amino acid sequences. They also have the same chemical formula, C2191H3457N583O656S18. However, the rhAT monosaccharide composition is slightly altered from that of hpAT, due to the protein’s origin: goat milk. Goat mammary glands (the glands responsible for producing milk) produce the same sugars as the human body, but the goat mammary glands do so with less sialation. This reduced sialation in the production in rhAT contributes to the altered carbohydrate structure. It has

been determined in several different laboratories that the differences in the carbohydrate structures in rhAT do not affect the thrombin inhibition rate. This suggests that the carbohydrate chains do not affect the functions of antithrombin III. ATryn is the trade name of the recombinant antithrombin protein made by GTC Biotherapeutics, Inc. It is produced as a powder containing rhAT, glycine, sodium chloride, and sodium citrate. When it is needed for use by humans, the powder is reconstituted with sterile water. The drug can then be injected into the patient. ATryn is used to prevent thrombosis during surgeries, pregnancies, and labor in people with hereditary antithrombin deficiency (whose antithrombin level is less than 60% of the normal level). The goal of the treatment is to keep the antithrombin activity levels between 80% and 120% of the normal levels. The FDA’s approval of ATryn to be used in the United States to prevent life-threatening thrombosis in people with hereditary antithrombin III deficiency has several impacts. First, it paves the way for other drug companies that wish to create new drugs by using transgenic animals. Being the first company to produce a drug by using transgenic animals and to have that drug approved by the FDA, GTC Biotherapeutics technology is currently considered to be novel and cutting edge. Hopefully, now that one company has proven to the world that drugs made from the milk of transgenic goats can be successful, other companies will follow suit and invest in producing their own drugs by using transgenic animals. In this way, drug production will be more cost-effective and more efficient; no longer will companies have to manufacture drugs in small batches and quantities. ATryn is also of great significance to the medical world because of its status as an “orphan drug,” meaning that it is a drug designed with the specific function of preventing thrombosis during high-risk situations. Once it is available and used in people with hereditary antithrombin III deficiency, it will temporarily restore their body’s regular maintenance and control of the coagulation cascade, and hopefully reduce the risk of thrombosis during surgery and pregnancy. Thus, the production and FDA approval of ATryn has opened doors for further transgenic research and represents a significant risk reduction for people affected by antithrombin III deficiency. References Bauer, K.A. “Management of patients with hereditary defects predisposing to thrombosis including pregnant women.” Thromb Haemost 74.1 (1995): 94-100. Brouwer, Jan-Leendert P. et al. “High long-term absolute risk of recurrent venous thromboembolism in patients with hereditary deficiencies of protein S, protein C or antithrombin.” Schattauer 101.1 (2009): 93-99. Bucur SZ, Levy JH, Despotis GJ, Spiess BD, Hillyer CD. “Uses of antithrombin III concentrate in congenital and acquired deficiency states.” Transfusion 38.5 (1998): 481- 498. Highlights of Prescribing Information. GTC Biotherapeutics, Inc. 3 February 2009. Newberry, Thomas. E-mail interview. 1 March 2009. Stix, Gary. “The Land of Milk and Money.” Scientific American 293.5 (2005): 102-105. “Structural Characteristics of rhAT and hpAT.” GTC-Biotherapeutics. 2007. 28 February 2009. <http://www.atiii.com/treatopts.htm>.

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MIND BODY over

BY MURONG HE

Our society has long embraced the idea that we derive our talents and abilities from our genes. Using the same reasoning, some people choose to find a scapegoat in their genes for their incompetence and become resigned to their shortcomings. In the midst of our pessimistic way of thinking, however, we must remember that we are 99.98% genetically alike. This fact should not undermine each individual’s uniqueness; rather, it should remind us that talent is not always inherent. Throughout history, there have been many people who have surpassed their physical limits to achieve the unachievable, be it climbing the highest peaks or swimming the deepest oceans. In 1987, Reinhold Messner and his partner Peter Habler climbed Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen, a feat that many thought to be impossible. Although their venture was extremely risky, Messner and Habler were not daunted— for them, the spirit of adventure lay in the dangerous but ultimately satisfying, nature of the experience. After intense training, the two embarked on a journey that would forever change the attitude toward altitude. Toward the top of Mount Everest, the two climbers were collapsing every 15 minutes due to lack of oxygen, but their willpower transcended their physical fatigue, and at around 1 p.m. on May 8th, 1987, Messner and Habler achieved the seemingly impossible. On the other end of the spectrum, Tanya Streeter aims for depth rather than altitude. Few people can hold their breaths underwater for more than a minute. Streeter can do it for six. As a freediver, she dives deep into the ocean and back up, all in one breath. Her record? A stunning 160 meters (that’s fifty stories below water!). To put her stunt into perspective, most people lose consciousness after three minutes without oxygen. Tanya is no divine diver, either; she spends around five hours everyday doing cardio work and endurance tests to achieve her diving feats. Lynne Cox, a long-distance swimmer, also finds home in the waters. A list of accomplishments

claim to hypnotize his patients; he says that the secret, as clichéd as it may sound, is simply “positive thinking.” Many scientists have argued that no concrete evidence supports the effectiveness of hypnosis or hypnosis-related methods, but a study conducted at the University of Montreal proves otherwise. In the experiment, Dr. Pierre Rainville placed his subject under a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan. He then read a series of “suggestions” to his subject, such as relaxing and being weary to the point that she could no longer keep her eyes open. He then placed her hand in extremely hot water, and carried on with his “suggestions,” this time telling her that the water was actually cool. The PET scan showed some interesting results. As soon as the subject’s hand was placed in the water, the part of her brain that was in charge of pain sensations was activated, but when Dr. Rainville continued with his “suggestions,” the pain activity in her brain disappeared as she accepted the suggestion that she feel no pain. Although hypnosis and willpower are rarely ever directly linked, Dr. Rainville’s experiment has set the ground for basic human brain functions that involve both. Pain originates from the brain, and his experiment has shown that we can overcome our brain’s “default sensations” simply by telling ourselves that we can, and believing it! No, not everyone is meant to climb Mount Everest, but the fact that our bodies can be conditioned to overcome pain and that some individuals, made up of the same A’s, T’s, G’s, and C’s as everyone else, have achieved such incredible feats in their lives should serve as encouragement for us to push ourselves and make our bodies do what our minds tell us to be impossible.

often accompanies her name, but Cox is most well known for crossing the Bering Strait as well as the frigid waters of the Antarctic. Streeter was not innately gifted, however; when she was younger, she would always be the slowest swimmer in her swim class. Her achievements lay in her sheer determination and incredible amount of endurance, not in natural talent. If there is one thing that all these extraordinary athletes have in common, it is their willpower and gritty determination. It is not to say that they do not have abilities that exceed the norm, but contrary to popular belief, they do not have superhuman prowess. We often forget that it is the hours that they practice and the extent to which they push themselves that truly make them great. Now the question is: how is it that some people are able to push themselves and others not? Is that inherent, to some degree, as well? Is there such a thing as being “born with willpower?” Maybe they are unable to feel pain. The truth is that the nature of mental strength is even more difficult to decipher than that of physical strength, but a few scientific experiments as well as real life examples may pave the way for further understanding. First of all, the definition of ‘willpower’ is basically the ability to have mental control over one’s actions. Cross-country runners are able to run great distances at a time because they are able to suppress their body’s pain, as can any great athlete. Pain is our body’s way of telling us that something is wrong. When it comes to exercise, though, our bodies play it pretty safe. Recall Tanya Streeter, the freediver who can hold her breath for six minutes. Most of our bodies start telling us that we need more oxygen after we hold our breaths for only a few seconds. After a minute, it feels like we have no more oxygen and we’re going to die if we don’t take a breath. But it turns out that even after holding their breaths for five, six minutes, freedivers still have half of the oxygen that they normally do, though it does not mean they are without pain. When it comes to numbing pain, anesthesia is the most common practice. Since the early 1800’s, patients have rarely undergone surgery with being drugged. But a group of doctors, like Dr. Escudero, conducts surgeries without resorting to anesthetics, and the surgeries are performed the same way they would be with anesthetics. Dr. Escudero simply tells his patients that as long as they “believe that they feel no pain, even as his scalpel slices away their flesh, they will feel no pain.” And surprisingly enough, his patients seem unaffected by the sharp operating objects, and spend the duration of the operation chatting away with the doctors. Dr. Escudero doesn’t

What is Science? Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition. ~Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776 Science is simply common sense at its best. ~Thomas Huxley Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science. ~Edwin Powell Hubble, The Nature of Science, 1954 Science is a first-rate piece of furniture for a man’s upper chamber, if he has common sense on the ground floor. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Poet at the Breakfast-Table, 1872 The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking. ~Albert Einstein Science is always wrong. It never solves a problem without creating ten more. ~George Bernard Shaw ‘’Science is an adventure of the mind seeking truth in a world of mystery.” — Sir Cyril Herman Hinshelwood References Quotations about Science." Science Quotes and Sayings. Apr 15 2009. Web. 23 Nov 2009.

References Dec. 2009. <http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6tahf_natural-mystery-mindover-body-23_people>. The New Yorker Aug. 2009. Print. “NOVA Online | Everest | First Without Oxygen.” PBS. Web. 05 Dec. 2009. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/everest/history/firstwoo2.html>. “Tanya Streeter - The Woman who Dives the Deepest.” Multiple Sclerosis - A Personal Account of MS. Web. 05 Dec. 2009. <http://www.mymultiplesclerosis. co.uk/misc/tanyastreeter.html>.

What do you think science is? Send your response to submit@falconium.org and get published!

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MIND BODY over

BY MURONG HE

Our society has long embraced the idea that we derive our talents and abilities from our genes. Using the same reasoning, some people choose to find a scapegoat in their genes for their incompetence and become resigned to their shortcomings. In the midst of our pessimistic way of thinking, however, we must remember that we are 99.98% genetically alike. This fact should not undermine each individual’s uniqueness; rather, it should remind us that talent is not always inherent. Throughout history, there have been many people who have surpassed their physical limits to achieve the unachievable, be it climbing the highest peaks or swimming the deepest oceans. In 1987, Reinhold Messner and his partner Peter Habler climbed Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen, a feat that many thought to be impossible. Although their venture was extremely risky, Messner and Habler were not daunted— for them, the spirit of adventure lay in the dangerous but ultimately satisfying, nature of the experience. After intense training, the two embarked on a journey that would forever change the attitude toward altitude. Toward the top of Mount Everest, the two climbers were collapsing every 15 minutes due to lack of oxygen, but their willpower transcended their physical fatigue, and at around 1 p.m. on May 8th, 1987, Messner and Habler achieved the seemingly impossible. On the other end of the spectrum, Tanya Streeter aims for depth rather than altitude. Few people can hold their breaths underwater for more than a minute. Streeter can do it for six. As a freediver, she dives deep into the ocean and back up, all in one breath. Her record? A stunning 160 meters (that’s fifty stories below water!). To put her stunt into perspective, most people lose consciousness after three minutes without oxygen. Tanya is no divine diver, either; she spends around five hours everyday doing cardio work and endurance tests to achieve her diving feats. Lynne Cox, a long-distance swimmer, also finds home in the waters. A list of accomplishments

often accompanies her name, but Cox is most well known for crossing the Bering Strait as well as the frigid waters of the Antarctic. Streeter was not innately gifted, however; when she was younger, she would always be the slowest swimmer in her swim class. Her achievements lay in her sheer determination and incredible amount of endurance, not in natural talent. If there is one thing that all these extraordinary athletes have in common, it is their willpower and gritty determination. It is not to say that they do not have abilities that exceed the norm, but contrary to popular belief, they do not have superhuman prowess. We often forget that it is the hours that they practice and the extent to which they push themselves that truly make them great. Now the question is: how is it that some people are able to push themselves and others not? Is that inherent, to some degree, as well? Is there such a thing as being “born with willpower?” Maybe they are unable to feel pain. The truth is that the nature of mental strength is even more difficult to decipher than that of physical strength, but a few scientific experiments as well as real life examples may pave the way for further understanding. First of all, the definition of ‘willpower’ is basically the ability to have mental control over one’s actions. Cross-country runners are able to run great distances at a time because they are able to suppress their body’s pain, as can any great athlete. Pain is our body’s way of telling us that something is wrong. When it comes to exercise, though, our bodies play it pretty safe. Recall Tanya Streeter, the freediver who can hold her breath for six minutes. Most of our bodies start telling us that we need more oxygen after we hold our breaths for only a few seconds. After a minute, it feels like we have no more oxygen and we’re going to die if we don’t take a breath. But it turns out that even after holding their breaths for five, six minutes, freedivers still have half of the oxygen that they normally do, though it does not mean they are without pain. When it comes to numbing pain, anesthesia is the most common practice. Since the early 1800’s, patients have rarely undergone surgery with being drugged. But a group of doctors, like Dr. Escudero, conducts surgeries without resorting to anesthetics, and the surgeries are performed the same way they would be with anesthetics. Dr. Escudero simply tells his patients that as long as they “believe that they feel no pain, even as his scalpel slices away their flesh, they will feel no pain.” And surprisingly enough, his patients seem unaffected by the sharp operating objects, and spend the duration of the operation chatting away with the doctors. Dr. Escudero doesn’t

claim to hypnotize his patients; he says that the secret, as clichéd as it may sound, is simply “positive thinking.” Many scientists have argued that no concrete evidence supports the effectiveness of hypnosis or hypnosis-related methods, but a study conducted at the University of Montreal proves otherwise. In the experiment, Dr. Pierre Rainville placed his subject under a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan. He then read a series of “suggestions” to his subject, such as relaxing and being weary to the point that she could no longer keep her eyes open. He then placed her hand in extremely hot water, and carried on with his “suggestions,” this time telling her that the water was actually cool. The PET scan showed some interesting results. As soon as the subject’s hand was placed in the water, the part of her brain that was in charge of pain sensations was activated, but when Dr. Rainville continued with his “suggestions,” the pain activity in her brain disappeared as she accepted the suggestion that she feel no pain. Although hypnosis and willpower are rarely ever directly linked, Dr. Rainville’s experiment has set the ground for basic human brain functions that involve both. Pain originates from the brain, and his experiment has shown that we can overcome our brain’s “default sensations” simply by telling ourselves that we can, and believing it! No, not everyone is meant to climb Mount Everest, but the fact that our bodies can be conditioned to overcome pain and that some individuals, made up of the same A’s, T’s, G’s, and C’s as everyone else, have achieved such incredible feats in their lives should serve as encouragement for us to push ourselves and make our bodies do what our minds tell us to be impossible.

What is Science? Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition. ~Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776 Science is simply common sense at its best. ~Thomas Huxley Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science. ~Edwin Powell Hubble, The Nature of Science, 1954 Science is a first-rate piece of furniture for a man’s upper chamber, if he has common sense on the ground floor. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Poet at the Breakfast-Table, 1872 The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking. ~Albert Einstein Science is always wrong. It never solves a problem without creating ten more. ~George Bernard Shaw ‘’Science is an adventure of the mind seeking truth in a world of mystery.” — Sir Cyril Herman Hinshelwood References Quotations about Science." Science Quotes and Sayings. Apr 15 2009. Web. 23 Nov 2009.

References Dec. 2009. <http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6tahf_natural-mystery-mindover-body-23_people>. The New Yorker Aug. 2009. Print. “NOVA Online | Everest | First Without Oxygen.” PBS. Web. 05 Dec. 2009. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/everest/history/firstwoo2.html>. “Tanya Streeter - The Woman who Dives the Deepest.” Multiple Sclerosis - A Personal Account of MS. Web. 05 Dec. 2009. <http://www.mymultiplesclerosis. co.uk/misc/tanyastreeter.html>.

What do you think science is? Send your response to submit@falconium.org and get published!

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