Page 1

FALCONIUM

spring 2011

My Little Sea Squirt

BY ANGELA QIAN & MICHELLE SIT PAGE 4

BY MIMI YAO PAGE 8

GRA

PHIC

BY

KRIS

TINA

PAIK

Secret Science of Hair Analysis

Whats INside-------special on caffiene > Caffeine (by Kira Watkins) P10 >>What's in Your Energy Drink P5 >>>A Link Between Coffee and Headaches P7

CONSTANT CHANGING BY LAUREN SWEET COMFORT FROM A CAT BY LING JING

& MORE


Falconium Science Journal invites bright and inquisitive high school students to write and submit scientific articles for publication. Articles are accepted on a rolling basis and published quarterly both on web and paper for a widespread peer audience. All submissions are accepted through www.falconium.org. Articles should satisfy one of the following three categories:

ORIGINAL RESEARCH

This is a documentation of an experiment or survey you did yourself. You are encouraged to bring in relevant outside knowledge so long as you clearly state your sources. The article must be between 1000 and 2,500 words, and contain the headers introduction, methods, results, and discussion. Original research articles will be scored on the basis of originality, scientific validity, and the appeal of the research topic to a broad audience. Clarity of writing, conciseness, and accessibility to all readers will also be considered.

REVIEW

A review is a balanced, informative analysis of a current issue or event in science and technology, or in society and politics as it relates to science. A review is based on information from experts and the media, but includes the author’s insights and commentary. The article must have between 750 and 2000 words. Reviews will be scored on the basis of depth of analysis, level of insight, journalistic style, and the appeal of the subject to a broad audience.

OP-ED

An op-ed is a persuasive article or a statement of opinion. All op-ed articles make one or more claims and support them with evidence, arguments, or quotations. Word count: 750-1500. Op-ed articles will be scored based on how well-supported, interesting, and effective the articles are. Please feel free to contact us for any questions or comments. If feel compelled to donate to the Falconium organization, more information can be acquired via email.

WEBSITE: www.falconium.org EMAIL: info@falconium.org MAILING: Torrey Pines High School

SPONSORS:

Falconium Science Journal Attn: Brinn Belyea 710 Encinitas Blvd. Encinitas, CA 92024


O O my little sea squirt by angela qian & michelle sit p4 what's in your energy drink? by rekha narasimhan p5 constant changing by lauren sweet p6 a link between coffee and headaches by bethel hagos p7 the secret science of hair analysis and its potential utility by mimi yao p8 comfort from a cat by ling jing p9 caffeine's effect on plant germination by kira watkins p10 the true power of hand sanitizer by sarah hsu p12

Fa

a new wave in medicine by rebecca su p13

original research: inflammation & fat cells by siddhartho bhattacharya p14 the origin of i & applications by nathan manohar p16 spectropens: a handheld breakthrough by kristine paikp17 blurry lines by sarah lee p18 treating the deadliest by peter khaw p19

remote controlled humans by Sarah Bhattacharjee p20

The Unsolved Case of Euthanasia By Ruochen Huang p21 A Wooden Bridge to a New Era in Orthopedic Surgery by noor al-alusi p22 melatonin- a new fountain of youth? by sara shu p23 green technology by E. Romm & A. Chaudhary p24 The Final Clash Between Man and Pathogen by ethan song p25 the trick behind trick candles by rachael lee p26 our world of evidence by harshita nadimpalli p27 the quadrature of the parabola by albert chen p28

the truth about fatigue by margaret guo p29 N|ot t|here by Angela Qian p30

03


GRAPHIC BY LUCY AN

My Little Sea Squirt

BY ANGELA QIAN AND MICHELLE SIT

In the waters of slower and slower eddies, living a placid and organic existence, bobbing on the ocean floor while attached to a convenient and comfortable rock, are creatures known as sea squirts. They live a peaceful and tranquil existence, swaying gently in subdued but still glowing hues. These little beings are indeed rather peculiar: some translucent and lit and others appearing like small plastic toys. They develop in odd shapes and variegated colors, and with strange orifices. This, then, is the sea squirt. In fact, these creatures are very common throughout the world’s oceans. They are called tunicates, to be more scientific about it, and are part of a larger class of filter feeders called Chordata. Tunicates are composed of several different classes; the class of ascidians consists of well over two thousand species. Sea squirts look like small sacs, and at first glance, don't seem much like animals at all. They live simply: to eat, a mucous net filters food particles from the water being siphoned in and out and sends them to the stomach, and aside from that, they don't do very much. However, there is a surprising amount of depth to these innocuous organisms. Firstly, contrary to their delicate appearance, sea squirts have a very tough and hard outer shell. These little creatures are harder than they look. Sometimes they are mistaken for sponges. However, unlike sponges, they have two openings, or siphons, which conduct water through the body of the sea squirt to propel the tiny creature or feed it. The sea squirt earns its name from shooting a jet stream of water through its ex-current siphon when attacked. Sea squirts are very determined and attached critters; they spend their lives fixed on a certain object, such as a rock or a shell. And like humans, it appears, sea squirts have social identities. One type is solitary. These sea squirts and wild and independent, as they live out their lives in proud and lonely splendor on their rock or shell. However, another type of sea squirts has a rather more jovial existence, forming small communities. There are even large colonies consisting of sea squirts attached to one another that can be up to several meters in diameter. In these cases, each sea squirt is called a zooid. These magnificent creatures of which I have described to you, are in fact used as food in some areas. The noble sea squirts—yes! They are indeed taken and chewed and swallowed! Their airy lights are extinguished in the acid of mankind's stomach! For example, in Korea and Japan, there is a dish known as the sea pineapple. This innocuous name is actually a cover for the fact that the “pineapple” is, in fact, an edible sea squirt. They are consumed raw, usually, and have a characteristically unusual appearance similar to that of pineapples—spiky. It is even sometimes made into kimchi. Furthermore, the fish soup bouillabaisse (that Ron Weasley mistook for a sneeze) also makes use of edible ascidians. And that isn't the end of it; these little-known creatures are used in dishes through regions such as Chile and Australia. Sea squirts not only serve humankind as food, but also have a vital role in pollution testing. One Doctor Marshall from the University of Queensland undertook research to discover the effects of pollution upon marine evolution. His subjects? Sea squirts found in Moreton Bay, with a life span of two months. His plan involved testing to see if and how sea squirts grew resistant to pollution and referred to the creature as a “lab rat for the sea”. Though their life spans are short (sea squirts are only larvae for a few minutes and embryos for only a few hours), the embryos are transparent in nature and the sea squirts constantly filter water in and out of themselves, so researchers have used these creatures to test for pollutants in the water. One study conducted by Italian scientists found that chemicals and toxins such as TBT and copper had some impairing effects upon the development of embryo sea squirts that eventually affected the rest of their lives. Though the amounts were found to be in small doses, these tiny doses did prove to have some effect and thus, the scientists were concerned that the pollution caused by nearby factories or spills could have a detrimental effect upon the sea squirt population. Sea squirts. The name evokes an odd image—one doesn't quite know what to think. But it is quite clear that these mysterious and diminutive organisms (lacking even a fossil record) are quite unique. Their roles as food and as a strange-seeming plant (though in reality, an animal), their unique characteristics, colors, and the huge variety in the species, make sea squirts really rather interesting to see. REFERENCES Campbell, Neil A., and Jane B. Reece. Biology. San Francisco: Pearson, Benjamin Cummings, 2005. Print. Fenner, Bob. "Almost Us!? Sea Squirts, Tunicates, Ascidians, Subphylum Urochordata, Phylum Chordata Pt. 1." WetWebMedia.com. Web. <http://www.wetwebmedia. com/ascidians.htm>. Knott, Patricia, and Mike Page. "Ascidians (Phylum Tunicata, Class Ascidiacea)." Treasures of the Sea. WWF. Web. <http://www.treasuresofthesea.org.nz/ascidians>. Marshall, Dustin, and Penny Robinson. "Sea Squirts Signal Sea Pollution." UQ News. The University of Queensland Australia, 26 Sept. 2009. Web. <http://www.uq.edu. au/news/?article=16059>. Tunicate Web Portal. Web. <http://www.tunicate-portal.org/>. Zega, G., R. Pennati, S. Candiani, M. Pestarino, and F De Bernardi. "Solitary Ascidians Embryos (Chordata, Tunicata) as Model Organisms for Testing Coastal Pollutant Toxicity." Department of Biology, University of Milan, Milan, Italy, 13 Mar. 2009. Web. <http://www.isj.unimo.it/articoli/ISJ-Suppl-004.pdf>.

04


What’s In Your Energy Drink?

BY REKHA NARASIMHAN || REVIEWED BY INDRANI SINHAHIKIM

As the pressures of high school mount and late nights get longer, some students are turning to energy drinks to aid them in their struggle to keep awake. The popularity of the energy drink has skyrocketed in recent years, but many consumers of this quick energy fix are unaware of its contents. Many of the brands of energy drinks contain common ingredients, such as caffeine, guarana, and taurine, which allow their drinkers to feel energized. The main stimulant in energy drinks is caffeine. This common drug acts on the body by stimulating the nervous system, giving the consumer a feeling of alertness. Though caffeine is legal, unregulated, and FDA-approved, the high levels of caffeine in energy drinks are a concern for many health professionals. One concern is that improper labeling of energy drinks can mislead or misinform consumers about how much caffeine they are ingesting. This highly increases the chance of caffeine intoxication and overdose, which in some cases can be fatal. Research also indicates that the high levels of caffeine encourage consumers to engage in often dangerous risk-taking that may be out of character, and that the recent craze for alcoholic energy drinks is causing consumers to drink more than they should, because the caffeine in energy drinks delays the effects of alcohol. Fortunately, however, the dangers of caffeine in energy drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, have not been overlooked. In 2008, a hundred scientists and physicians petitioned the FDA for greater regulation of energy drinks, due to an increasing number of cases involving caffeine toxicity. Caffeine gives energy drinks the kick that make them so popular, but the high levels of caffeine in energy drinks can have devastating effects. An ingredient common to energy drinks is guarana. This fruit, native to South America, is a rich source of caffeine, and is thought to increase mental awareness and physical stamina. The desirable effects that guarana is known to produce makes it a popular ingredient for energy drinks such as Monster, Full Throttle, and Rockstar. However, guarana can be disastrous to those with pre-existing heart conditions and others such as diabetes. Some research also suggests that high levels of guarana can cause irregularities with heart function. The effects of guarana have not been extensively researched and guarana has not been definitively linked to any major health concerns, and so it continues to be used regularly in energy drinks. Another common ingredient in energy drinks is taurine, an amino acid found in many common foods. Taurine, which is present in drinks such as Red Bull and Energy Fizz, supports the body’s neurological functions, and some research suggests that taurine supplements can improve athletic performance. It is also thought that taurine and caffeine together can produce desirable effects such as alertness and clarity of mind. However, the fact remains that little research has been done on the short and long term impacts of taurine, and the general consensus among the health care community is that it should be consumed in moderation. The high levels of caffeine and potential side effects of the common ingredients in energy drinks aren’t the only concerns for health care professionals. The increase in abuse of alcoholic energy drinks has been on a steady rise since these drinks made a splash into the energy drink market. In October of 2010, nine students at Central Washington University drank so many alcoholic energy drinks that their blood alcohol levels became extremely unsafe; one student almost died. The incident at Central Washington shed light on the abuse of alcoholic energy drinks and urged several states to consider banning these drinks. Concerns about the stress on associated with stimulants in energy drinks have the body also been considered. The increased heart rate associated with energy drinks can place extreme stress on the body, which is especially unnatural and hazardous if energy drinks are consumed during low-key activities. At this point, most researchers agree that energy drinks, if consumed, should be consumed in moderation. Because of the varying effects of caffeine on different people, and the warnings issued by health care professionals, many agree that exercising caution with energy drinks is wise. Though consuming energy drinks is an easy way to make it through long nights and sleepless school days, it isn’t the optimum choice. Healthy eating and supplements can help carry students through days with more energy, and less harmful caffeinated drinks like tea can come to the rescue during those dreaded late-night studying emergencies.

GRAPHIC BY SARAH GUSTAFSON

REFERENCES Dininny, Shannon. "Washington Party Highlights Dangers Of Energy Drinks - News - @ JEMS.com." EMS, Emergency Medical Services - JEMS - Training, Paramedic and EMT News, Products, Resources, EMS Jobs @ JEMS.com. Associated Press, 26 Oct. 2010. Web. 27 Nov. 2010. <http://www.jems. com/article/news/washington-party-highlights-da>. Gavin, Mary L., and Jessica D. Black. "Caffeine." KidsHealth - the Web's Most Visited Site about Children's Health. Jan. 2008. Web. 27 Nov. 2010. <http://kidshealth.org/teen/drug_alcohol/drugs/caffeine.html>. "Energy Drink Ingredients." Everything about Energy Drinks, Natural Energy Drink, Red Bull, Soft Drinks, 180 Energy Drink. Web. 23 Jan. 2011. <http:// www.energysip.com/ingred.html>. Group, Edward. "The Health Dangers of Energy Drinks." Global Healing Center. 14 June 2008. Web. <http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/ the-health-dangers-of-energy-drinks/>. Gutierrez, David. "High-Caffeine Energy Drinks Like Red Bull Linked to Violence, Risk-Taking Among Teens." NaturalNews. Truth Publishing Int. Ltd. Web. <www.naturalnews.com>. Mangano, Frank. "High Cost of Energy: Study Shows Energy Drinks Can Be Harmful." NaturalNews. 11 Dec. 2007. Web. 27 Nov. 2010. <http://www. naturalnews.com/022360_energy_drinks_health_research.html>. Reissig, Chad J., Eric C. Strain, and Roland R. Griffiths. "Caffeinated Energy Drinks--A Growing Problem." Drug and Alcohol Dependence 99.1-3 (2009): 1-10. ScienceDirect. Web. 27 Nov. 2010. <http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/bin/w/y/Griffiths.pdf>. "Taurine, Ingredients, & Energy: What's In Your Drink." Energy Drinks at Fact Expert. Web. 23 Jan. 2011. <http://energydrinks.factexpert.com/906energy-drink-taurine.php>. Weise, Elizabeth. "Petition Calls for FDA to Regulate Energy Drinks - USATODAY.com." USA Today. 22 Oct. 2008. Web. 27 Nov. 2010. <http://www. usatoday.com/news/health/2008-10-21-energy-drinks_N.htm>. Wong, Cathy. "Guarana - What Is Guarana?" About.com, 20 July 2006. Web. 27 Nov. 2010. <http://altmedicine.about.com/od/completeazindex/a/guarana.htm>. Zeratsky, Katherine. "Taurine in Energy Drinks: What Is It?" Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. Web. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/taurine/AN01856>.

05


Constant Changing

BY LAUREN SWEET

GRAPHIC BY KRISTINE PAIK

> Since its discovery in 1896, physicists and chemists have always been able to trust “k”. Even as our fundamental knowledge about the nature of matter has changed and evolved, scientists have been able to rely on the constancy of this decay constant. In math, chemistry, and physics, that little k, the rate of radioactive decay of an element, has been comfortingly dependable, used to solve complicated equations in upper level chemistry and as a reliable measure of time. Carbon dating, the process by which archaeologists date objects by measuring the amount of carbon remaining in the sample and relating it to the standardized carbon decay constant, would be useless without k. Because of the reliability of k, we know how old Lucy the Australopithecus is. But recent discoveries are beginning to show that perhaps the only constant we can truly count on is the evolution of science.

> Whatever was coming from the sun was not at all affected by the earth. The particles seemed to be able to go right through the center of the earth and out the other side. These were presumably solar neutrinos from the sun’s core, in which incredible heat and pressure spur on fusion reactions. A neutrino is a small neutral particle that moves at near the speed of light and is able to pass through matter almost imperceptibly. The solar neutrino sounds like a perfect source for the fluctuations in k, but there is one problem: neutrinos are neutral, and are not supposed to be able to affect matter. So how would they cause this change in radioactive decay? Either neutrinos are capable of some function previously unknown, or there is an entirely new particle out there yet unaccounted for. Either way, this inconstant k will force us to change our perceptions.

> The rate at which radioactive decay occurs is constant, but the rate at which elements eject their particles during decay is random. Ephraim Fischbach of Purdue University attempted to capitalize on this random expulsion to create a random number generator. Using various radioactive elements, the Purdue researchers were testing their element-fueled random number generator when the first spark of doubt occurred. The scientists became concerned when they realized that their rates of decay did not quite match the standardized, accepted numbers. A comparison with tests from the Federal Physical and Technical Institute in Germany as well as Brookhaven National Laboratory revealed that all was not well in the realm of the constant k.

> Due to the research at Purdue, we now must consider even more than the possibility of a new particle. If radioactive decay isn’t as constant as we thought, carbon dating could also be less accurate. Although these fluctuations in the decay rate are slight, their effect can become magnified over millions of years. The implications for history have yet to be considered fully. Fortunately, however, the discovery of the sun’s role, in addition to explaining decay rate fluctuations, also has another beneficial practical application. Jenkins’ experiment demonstrated that the fluctuations in decay rates occur before a solar flare. Solar flares release streams of magnetic radiation that can interfere with satellites, space stations and present dangers to astronauts. The ability to predict an oncoming flare from earth using changes in rate constant could help avert such problems.

> Surprisingly, silicon-32 and radium-226 seemed to have a k that changed with the seasons, decreasing in the winter and increasing in the summer. What was causing these fluctuations? Enter Jere Jenkins, an engineer at Purdue University. Jenkins was measuring the decay rate of manganese-54 and noticed a slight drop in the rate. As luck would have it, December 13, 2006, the date of Jenkins’ experiment, was also the day that the sun emitted a solar flare, flinging a stream of radiation toward earth and providing the literal light that would galvanize researchers toward discovery. Comparing his notes to the sun's action, Jenkins realized that the drop in manganese-54 decay began about a day and half before the solar flare. The sun fit the seasonal pattern. It is closest to the earth during the winter, the exact time when k declined slightly. > Peter Sturrock, Stanford professor emeritus of applied physics, strengthened the theory when he and other researchers took a closer look at the pattern of decay fluctuations. The pattern seemed to follow a 33-day cycle. While the sun has a rotational period of 28 days, its core, where the heaviest reactions take place, has a period of 33 days—a perfect match to the decay constant schedule. After ruling out environmental causes, researchers agreed that whatever was affecting k came from the core of the sun.

> So, while we mourn the passing of the consummate k, we are open to the possibility of more accurate predictions and a better understanding of the universe. The sun has been proven to have yet another role in our physical universe, affecting things profoundly even at the atomic level. Whether or not the neutrino is the culprit, the discovery is another major step in the development of a comprehensive theory of matter. It may be that Lucy is older than we thought. REFERENCES "List of Particles." Academic Dictionaries and Encyclopedias. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/220666>. "The Neutrino." CHORUS - CERN WA95 Neutrino Oscillation Experiment. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://choruswww.cern.ch/Public/textes/english/node1.html>. O'Neill, Ian. "Is the Sun Emitting a Mystery Particle? : Discovery News." Discovery News: Earth, Space, Tech, Animals, Dinosaurs, History. 25 Aug. 2010. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://news.discovery.com/space/is-the-sun-emitting-a-mystery-particle. html>. "The Search for Sun's Mystery Particle." Web log post. Futurity.org. 24 Aug. 2010. Web. 10 Nov. 2010. <http://www.futurity.org/science-technology/the-search-forsuns-mystery-particle/>.

06


It is not uncommon in class to see kids fighting to stay awake, desperately trying to grasp the information for their next quiz or test after spending a ritual “all nighter” on homework and extracurricular obligations. To counter this problem, many Torrey Pines students frequent the local Starbucks or Coffee Bean &Tea Leaf to get their daily dose of caffeine to help them get through the day awake. However, researchers have investigated a connection between coffee intake and the occurrence of headaches that may warrant a change in perception of coffee’s health benefits. The use of coffee for energy dates back to legends from the 9th century, when farmers decided to chew the plant after noticing that their goats had heightened activity during the day and were sleepless at night directly after munching through coffee shrubs. Today, caffeine is the most commonly consumed stimulant worldwide, often praised as a “life-saver” for its uses as a go-to energy boost. It is convenient because its effects are instant, as caffeine is absorbed and distributed through body tissue in only about 45 minutes. Scientists (and the public) acknowledge the positive benefits of moderate caffeine consumption. Researchers are currently exploring caffeine’s possible anti-liver and breast cancer properties and its potential to prevent Parkinson’s disease in men. The dieting industry has taken advantage of caffeine’s ability to supposedly cause drastic weight loss. In addition, one study has demonstrated that after receiving 100 mg of caffeine, subjects had increased brain activity in regions associated with memory, as shown through imaging and electrical stimulation, and performed better on memory tests. For some, the advantages of caffeine are worth it, but there are a few negative consequences, such as headaches, that may prompt some to change their minds. Scientifically speaking, a headache, or cephalgia, is pain in the head or neck caused by irritated pain receptors (or nerve endings) near the brain, as a result of irritation of the neighboring blood vessels and meninges (the protective membranes encasing the brain and spinal cord). Caffeine acts as an inhibitor to several neurotransmitters in the nervous system, meaning that it falsely signals the brain to slow the dispersion of certain messagesending chemicals at nerve sites. It is also able to permeate the “blood-brain” barrier, which protects the brain, and block receptor sites for adenosine - a neurochemical that signals drowsiness and regulates blood flow through vasodilation (the expansion of blood vessels). It is through this way that caffeine helps a person combat droopy eyes and stay alert, even when the body is in serious need of rest. However, by forcing more receptors to accommodate for the freely floating compounds kicked off their sites, excess caffeine increases the need for adenosine to “make up” for that from which it is being blocked. In effect, the amount of blood vessel dilation is amplified to the point that too much blood reaches the head and unendurable pain strikes the brain. Headaches can hit when too much caffeine is consumed, as in caffeine intoxication, or if the body does not perceive that it has received enough, as in the case of caffeine tolerance. In a study, nearly 50% of adults suffering chronic headache problems reported that they had experienced minor headaches after consuming coffee when they were under 20 years old. If making oneself accustomed to headaches by not addressing the issue as a young adult is related to the occurrence of future headaches, it is essential for a young person to counter headache-inducing habits whenever possible. The most commonly experienced headache is only primary-that is, unrelated severe underlying brain problems- and can include tension and sinus headaches, as well as migraines. Direct causes have not yet been pinpointed by scientists, but the symptoms like throbbing and nausea may signify a relation to muscle tension, inflammation, or mal-regulated blood flow in regions surrounding the brain. Because they decrease productivity and the ability for people to focus, headaches are huge distractions to the individual. They are extremely costly to any student’s performance, not to mention painful and annoying. When observed holistically, the evidence proves that caffeine is ineffective in facilitating proper learning, but possibly beneficial if consumed in moderation. “Moderation” varies since not every person’s rate of metabolism is the same, but the systems of young adults may suffer more, so young people should opt for less caffeine in general. Coffee drinkers who experience headaches may want to look at their excessive caffeine consumption as the cause of their discomfort. Too much of the drug may lead to intoxication; in addition, other symptoms, such as anxiety, inability to focus, and overall decreased initiative and motivation to work, will emerge, since the drug significantly reduces the presence of serotonin (another neurochemical monitoring alertness and aggression among many other things.) The bad may outweigh the presumably good, because headaches negatively affect student performance on class assignments, their ability to acquire information, and overall energy levels once the effects wear off a few hours later. Coffee doesn’t solve the problem of lost sleep, but may only cover it up temporarily. To avoid suffering from recurring headaches in the future as an adult, it is advantageous to reduce or minimize caffeine consumption. Though schedules may demand less sleep, it is important to consider the amount and health consequences of your coffee before drinking.

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A BETWEEN COFFEE AND HEADACHES BY BETHEL HAGOS

REFERENCES "Bad News For Coffee Drinkers Who Get Headaches." Science Daily. 14 Aug. 2009. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090813083455.htm>. "BBC News | Sci/Tech | Caffeine Clue to Better Memory." BBC News - Home. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/472473.stm>. "Coffee Health Benefits : Coffee May Protect against Disease." Health Information and Medical Information - Harvard Health Publications. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/coffee_health_benefits>. "Discovery Health "How Headaches Work"" Discovery Health "Health Guides" Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://health.howstuffworks.com/diseases-conditions/headache/headache.htm>. Fisone, G., A. Usiello, and A. Borgkvist. "Caffeine as a Psychomotor Stimulant: Mechanism of Action." Springer Link Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences. 6 Oct. 2003. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://www.springerlink.com/ content/605nwu366ay2c6xt/>. Glass, Jon. "Headaches and Migraines in Kids, Children - WebMD." WebMD - Better Information. Better Health. 16 Sept. 2009. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/guide/your-childsheadache?page=3>. "Headache: Encyclopedia II - Headache - Pathophysiology." Enlightenment - The Experience Festival. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Headache_-_Pathophysiology/id/1292096>. "Information about Caffeine Dependence." Information about Caffeine Research Study. Johns Hopkins

07


GRAPHIC BY AMBER SEONG

The SECRET SCIENCE of Hair Analysis and Its Potential Utility BY MIMI YAO Technologies used to analyze a small strand of hair, identify a corpse with a drop of blood, and lift fingerprints from a shard of glass have become common sights on both prime-time TV and in real-life criminal investigations. Nowadays, it is common knowledge that DNA from blood and fingerprints are markers of our individuality, but lesser known is trichology, which deals with the scientific study of the health of the hair and scalp. This methodology is also used in forensic science to determine the approximate age, race and body mass of the hair owner. In addition, this field of research and analysis is not only limited to forensics, but has applications in fields such as toxicology, disease identification, and mineral testing. The potential scope and benefits of this innovative field hold promise. Trichology takes advantage of the physical and chemical structure of hair. Hair is primarily made of keratin and dead cells and grows out of the follicle from the scalp or skin. Hair is both exposed to the environment and linked to internal organs and tissues, allowing it to come in contact with both internal substances, such as products of chemical processes, and external substances, such as pollutants in the environment. Contaminated air particles can either stick to hair keratin or be absorbed by the follicles. Several chemical tests can be performed on hair, because the substances that are swallowed or breathed in through the mouth and nose are transported to the hair follicle through the bloodstream. This allows for the application of hair analysis in forensic toxicology in testing for drug consumption. Scientists use either acid or alkaline hydrolysis to prepare a subjectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hair, and then analyze for evidence of specific drugs such as cocaine, opium, or amphetamines. Hydrolysis reactions then extract the substances from the hair for subsequent analysis and identification. If a person is convicted of drug abuse, hair analysis can confirm or disprove the guilt of the person, since the mere presence of these substances in the hair follicle can serve as evidence in court. A second, more commonly known, application of hair analysis is DNA matching. In linking a piece of hair to a person, the hair of unknown identity is first compared to a strand of hair from the suspected person using a microscope. If a match is made based on the structure of and markings on the hair, forensic scientists then perform mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequencing to confirm the validity of the results. In mtDNA sequencing, scientists compare the mitochondrial DNA of the hair cells, which can be found in the cell cytoplasm and is easier to extract than DNA from the nucleus. This application is commonly used in courts as substantial evidence to convict criminals. Additionally, hair is considered a â&#x20AC;&#x153;barometer of healthâ&#x20AC;?. Outside of crime and forensics, hair and scalp can be an accurate reflection of lifestyle, indicating the stresses, irregularities and variations within body systems. This is what makes trichology such an interesting science. For example, hair can be utilized to test for the possible presence of toxins such as mercury, cadmium, nickel, arsenic, copper, lead, chlorine, and iron. Microscopic amounts of these harmful substances are absorbed daily from sources such as medicine and food, or even from the surrounding air or water, and can lead to brain damage and diseases such as anorexia, depression, and insomnia. Testing for the presence of these substances can reveal problems in environmental practices or food and drug production, and thereby guide efforts to eliminate health risks. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can also be found through hair analysis. Hair is metabolically active, so it can show what is stored in the body, including vitamin and mineral levels. The test, then, can be used as a guide toward a healthy vitamin balance if needed. This health science application can thus be used to discover or confirm deficiency diseases. Applications of the hair analysis seem plentiful and promising, but present some problems in its reliability. Many scientists are hesitant in using trichology because it is not as reliable as DNA or fingerprint analysis methods. These other methods use samples that are not as easily compromised. The first issue is the length of time that is necessary for substances to reach and leave the hair shaft. For example, consumed toxins require 30 days to reach the hair shaft. The second issue is that external factors such as air pollution from the environment as well as variability in mineral concentrations contribute to the chemical makeup of hair, which would then lead to erroneous drug or vitamin test results. The science of hair analysis depends upon the fact that substances in the hair reflect conditions within the body; however, because substances can enter from the air, they may not accurately portray what is found in the body. Ultimately, more research needs to be performed to confirm the reliability of hair analysis and to firmly establish the science as a trustworthy method for convicting criminals or detecting diseases. As of now, too many factors confound analyses and detract from its reliability in determining malfunctions in the body. However, hair currently does serve as concrete evidence for DNA matching and paternity tests, since the environment does not affect the DNA stored in cells. Thus, this science has many potential applications, and the next steps are to further explore trichology to make it a much stronger force in analytical science. REFERENCES Arnold, Wolfgang, and Hans Sachs. "Hair Analysis for Medicaments -- the Best Proof for a Drug Career." Fresenius' Journal of Analytical Chemistry 348.8-9 (1994): 484-89. Print. "Basic Structure of Hair." USC Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. University of South Carolina. Web. 27 Oct. 2010. <http://www.chem.sc.edu/analytical/chem107/lab4_032205.pdf>. "Hair Analysis Reveals Way To Health, Wellness & Cause Of Disease." Hair Analysis Tests, Hair Analysis Info, Hair Analysis Tests. Web. 27 Oct. 2010. <http://www.hairanalysisreport.com/hair-analysis/toxic-metals.htm>. Hair Analysis: Test for Heavy Metal Toxicity, Vitamin and Mineral Test. Web. 27 Oct. 2010. <http://www.hairanalysistest.com/>. Kintz, Pascal. Drug Testing In Hair. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 1996. Print. Robinson, Narda G. "Hair Analysis - Science or Scam?" CVMBS-VTH-Colorado State University. Colorado State University. Web. 27 Oct. 2010. <http://csu-

08


t a c a m o r f t r comfo

BY LING JING

ISTINE

Y KR HIC B

GRAP

PAIK

> Oscar makes his home in a place that most of us avoid, in an atmosphere that most of us dread. As a resident feline of Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island, he spends his days with the old and the sick, those who are fading away as their memories are gradually ravaged by dementia. However, the tortoiseshell and white cat is generally antisocial (the least friendly of the six cats at the facility) and avoids consorting with nonagenarians and visitors alike, preferring curling up in solitude in a patch of sunlight to being petted and admired – that is, until a patient is about to die. > The five-year-old, otherwise ordinary cat was brought to Steere House as a kitten, and has since made 50 accurate predictions of the deaths of patients. In fact, his accuracy is so great that his extended presence in a room is nearly viewed as an absolute indicator of impending death, allowing nurses to call and gather family members to witness their loved one’s departure. When he senses that a patient’s end is near, Oscar will hop onto the patient’s bed and curl up for a warm, long vigil, refusing to move until he has seen the patient through, refusing to allow anyone to die alone. He has been witnessed hurrying from one room to another, giving each patient their due time; he has been seen meowing and clawing at closed doors in order to visit those within; he has been known to perch on the empty beds of those who have been moved to the hospital as they near their last hours. He has become a source of comfort and companionship for grieving families, a remarkable and inexplicable phenomenon for the nurses and staff at Steere House, and both an inspiration and source of controversy for audiences and critics. > Oscar’s unique abilities were pointed out to Dr. David Dosa, a geriatrician at Steere House, who, despite initial skepticism, observed Oscar’s behaviors and gradually acceded to the presence of some special ability. He published a short piece on Oscar’s “powers” in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007, and in 2010, released a book, Making Rounds with Oscar. Though there is no clear scientific explanation for Oscar’s gift, the accuracy rate of his predictions has led to multiple theories since his story was first publicized. One suggestion is that he makes his evaluations of patients because he can smell the distinctively-scented ketones given off by dying cells, or some other biochemical unbeknownst to humans that is a sign of imminent death, similar to how some dogs have been able to detect cancer. Another suggestion is that Oscar can sense the changes in metabolism that come with death. Other suggestions are less scientific: the most fantastical idea is that Oscar does have psychic abilities. Some believe that Oscar may be acting on his feline sixth sense, the same that allows animals to detect earthquakes and other natural disasters. Perhaps Oscar is only mimicking the actions of the staff; as a terminal dementia unit, deaths and vigils are common, and Oscar may only be patterning after the humans. Or perhaps Oscar is simply guided by his antisocial nature, attracted to those who exhibit less movement and are thus less inclined to bother him. There are several theories, but ultimately, there is no definitive, likely scientific explanation for Oscar’s abilities. As a result, some have criticized Oscar’s story, deeming it pseudo-science, unworthy to be published in a professional medical journal, or lacking evidence and factual bases. Some have also criticized Oscar himself and the “grim reaper” nature of his activities, arguing that the cat is a scare rather than a comfort. > In the end, however, perhaps Oscar’s story doesn’t need a solid scientific backing. Perhaps it can stand alone as it is – a scientific mystery, but a testament to the value of fidelity and empathy, and the emotional capacity and intelligence of animals. Oscar has been commended for being beside patients who have no one else and would otherwise be alone, accompanying them on their last journey. While we fear dementia and avoid that realm of fading memory as much as we can, Oscar offers the most love in the toughest moments, serving the most when he is needed the most, sticking out his shifts to the end, and treasuring the ability to say farewell in the end. Rather than evading the realities of death and loss, Oscar takes the opportunities to celebrate life and make one last demonstration of love. REFERENCES “Cat’s “Sixth Sense” Predicting Death? - CBS News.” Breaking News Headlines: Business, Entertainment & World News - CBS News. 25 July 2007. Web. 15 Nov. 2010. <http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/07/25/health/webmd/main3097899.shtml>. Dosa, D. M. “A Day in the Life of Oscar the Cat.” New England Journal of Medicine 357.4 (2007): 328-29. Print. Dosa, David. Making Rounds with Oscar: the Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat. New York: Hyperion, 2010. Print. Leonard, Tom. “Cat Predicts 50 Deaths in RI Nursing Home - Telegraph.” Telegraph.co.uk - Telegraph Online, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph - Telegraph. 1 Feb. 2010. Web. 15 Nov. 2010. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/7129952/Cat-predicts-50-deaths-in-RI-nursing-home.html>.

09


caffeine's

Effects on Plant Germination BY KIRA WATKINS

GRAPHIC BY SARAH BHATTACHARJEE

ABSTRACT: Caffeine is a substance present in coffee, chocolate, and many more foods. While it is known to induce alertness in the human brain, caffeine’s effects on plants are less commonly known. This experiment monitored the germination and growth of three plant seeds: radish seeds, soybean seeds, and spinach seeds. The seeds were each watered with a caffeine solution of varying concentration upon the initial planting. After that, no more caffeine was provided to the seeds. The results indicated that as the seeds were watered with an increasing concentration of caffeine solution, they either failed to germinate or grew at a much slower pace than the control seeds. Such results may parallel the effects that caffeine has in the human body when consumed. INTRODUCTION: Caffeine is a bitter, white crystalline alkaloid. It is in the family of chemicals called xanthenes, which are often used as mild stimulants, and has a chemical formula of C8H10N4O2. As caffeine enters an organism, either through human consumption or absorption through a plant’s roots, it serves as a nonselective antagonist of adenosine receptors. Caffeine is a competitive inhibitor of adenosine receptors with a molecular structure designed to mimic that of adenosine. In the human brain, adenosine’s binding to receptors reduces neural activity, causing sleepiness. When caffeine inhibits the action of adenosine in the brain by binding to adenosine receptors, it has the reverse effect, increasing alertness and neural activity.¹ Plants, however, the subject of interest in this experiment, do not experience increased alertness and “stimulation” from caffeine as presumed by some, for plants lack the nervous system responsible for producing such effects. Nonetheless, aside from neural activity, plants and humans experience similar effects from caffeine, most significantly the disruption of cellular calcium regulation. Caffeine interferes with a cell’s calcium regulation. Adenosine receptors play an important role in controlling calcium levels, and when they are inhibited by caffeine, cells release large amounts of their internal calcium.² Calcium is extremely important in plant cells, and decreasing its normal concentrations in the cells could have many effects on plants. First, calcium controls the structure and permeability of cell membranes. It is also extremely important in proper cell division and cell wall development. Furthermore, calcium must be present for the proper functioning of alpha-amylase, an enzyme that breaks down starch.³ When caffeine causes the cell to release internal calcium, it could greatly hamper all of these

functions of calcium. Watering the radish, soybean, and spinach seeds with caffeine will most likely inhibit cellular mitosis, hydrolysis of starch, and the proper functioning of cell membranes. Caffeine is also easily oxidized into uric acid when in water; therefore, when the seeds in this experiment are watered with the caffeine solutions, their surrounding soil will become acidic and possibly inapt for germination. It is expected that the seeds watered with high concentrations of caffeine solution will not be able to germinate, as their cells will be unable to divide and the environment will be too acidic. Seeds watered with a middle to low concentration of caffeine solution will probably experience little germination and, if they do germinate, will grow at a very slow rate. Overall, this experiment will test if the predicted calcium deficiency and acidic environment caused by caffeine will significantly hinder the germination and growth of plant seeds. The results may parallel the effects of caffeine on the human body, other than those related to the central nervous system. This can provide insight into the health hazards of consuming caffeine. PROCEDURE: Three different seeds (soybean seeds, radish seeds, and spinach seeds) were used to test the effect of caffeine on plant germination and growth. Twenty-four 8-ounce pots were used; eight pots contained soybean seeds, eight pots contained radish seeds, and eight pots contained spinach seeds. In each of the eight soybean pots, one soybean seed was planted. In each of the eight radish pots, three radish seeds were planted. In each of the eight spinach pots, three spinach seeds were planted. Upon the initial sowing of the seeds, all twenty-four pots were watered with 20mL of a caffeine solution of specific concentration. The caffeine solution consisted of caffeine powder dissolved in distilled water. The molarities of the 20 mL of caffeine solutions provided to each pot were as follows. The seeds were then watered with 30 mL of distilled water for twenty-five consecutive days. No additional caffeine was added to the plants after the initial dose of 20 mL of the above caffeine solutions on Day 1. If the seeds germinated, the rate of growth and average sprout heights* were recorded every five days for the twenty-five consecutive days. Pot #1 for all three seeds served as a control, watered with a 0 M solution of caffeine, or pure distilled water, upon the initial planting. Pot #1 established a base-line for the time needed for germination and the rate of growth for the seeds in a regular, caffeine-free environment. Each successive pot provided with the caffeine solutions could thus be compared in relation to the Pot #1 containing the corresponding seed type. This would allow for the observation of caffeine’s beneficial, neutral, or harmful effects on the various plant seeds. *Average sprout height will apply only to the radish seed pots and spinach seed pots, as there may be more than one sprout per pot since each pot was given three seeds; an overall average height will allow for more concise measurements. However, the soybean seed pots will each yield, at maximum, one sprout because each pot was provided with only one soybean seed; single sprout heights will thus be recorded for the soybean pots.

RESULTS: The seeds in spinach Pots #5-8 were unable to germinate. While Pots #1-4 were able to germinate, there was a consistent decrease in average sprout height and growth progression as the pot numbers went from #1-4. Recall that on Day 1, Pot #1 was watered with a 0 M caffeine solution while Pots #2-8 were provided with an increasingly concentrated caffeine solution; Pot #8 was initially watered with the greatest concentration of caffeine solution, 1.19 M. All three seeds in Pots #1-2 germinated, where-

10


molarity of 20 mL caffeine solution provided to each pot

SPINICH SEED POTS

RADISH SEED POTS

SOYBEAN SEED POTS

as Pots #3-4 each had one seed sprout (the spinach seed pots were provided with 3 seeds each upon initial sowing). Qualitatively, spinach Pot #3 had sprouts with withered, yellow edges. Pots #1-2 and Pot #4 had dark green sprouts with no withering. No seeds germinated in radish Pots #5-8. Out of the seeds in Pots #1-4 that did germinate, Pot #1’s seeds germinated first and had a larger average sprout height on Days 10 and 25 than those in Pots #2-4. On Day 5, Pot #2 actually had a larger average sprout height than Pot #1, being .2 cm taller. However, this height difference was fairly small and possibly a result of a varying initial seed health, with Pot #2 having slightly healthier seeds to begin with. The overall trend was that as the pot numbers progressed from #1-4, there was an decrease in average sprout height. Pots #1-2 each had three seeds sprout by Day 25, indicating that all of the seeds planted in them sprouted (each pot was provided with 3 seeds upon initial sowing). Pot #3, however, had two seeds sprout by Day 25. Pot #4 only had one seed sprout by Day 25, and that seed grew to a final height of .7 cm, small in comparison to the average final sprout height of 12.9 in Pot #1. Qualitative observations signified thinner stems and foliage in the sprouts of Pots #2-4 than in the sprouts of Pot #1. The seeds in soybean Pots #3-8 did not germinate. The seed in Pot #1, the control pot never watered with a caffeine solution, grew very quickly after germination and reached a final sprout height of 35.7 cm. However, the seed in Pot #2, watered with 20 mL of a .17

portion of soil used. To avoid this error in future experiments, hydroponics, or growing plants in mineral solutions without soil, may be a better alternative. In addition, every seed contains a different germination and height potential before they are even planted, largely based upon the predetermined genetic characteristics of each particular seed. For example, twenty healthy soybean seeds planted in a uniform environment may not germinate at the same time nor grow to the same height. This is an unavoidable error, but its effects could be reduced by using a larger sample size possibly consisting of ten different seed types planted in a few hundred pots. When taken in a broader context, a purpose of this experiment was to analyze the effects of caffeine on plants to provide insight into caffeine’s harmful effects in the human body. If caffeine prevents plants from growing and carrying out their normal cellular processes, it may do so within the human body as well. However, caffeine’s cellular effects, such as causing calcium deficiency, likely occur on a much smaller scale in humans than in the sprouts of this experiment. That is because caffeinated beverages and food made for human consumption contain a “watered down” caffeine solution that is far less concentrated than the solutions used in this experiment. Nonetheless, the results of this experiment suggest that if humans consume a large amount of caffeine without supplementing their diet with calcium-rich foods, a noticeable calcium deficiency will result. REFERENCES:

DISCUSSION/CONCLUSION: The purpose of this experiment was to see how caffeine would affect the germination and growth of plant seeds. In doing so, three different types of plant seeds were planted in twenty-four pots, eight pots used for each seed type. A control pot was set-up for each seed type, and that control pot was watered with no caffeine solution (distilled water only). All of the other pots were watered with a caffeine solution with a concentration between .17-1.19 M. Results indicate that watering plant seeds with a caffeine solution greater than .3 M, depending on seed type, inhibited the germination of the seeds. If the seeds were in fact able to germinate in the presence of caffeine, caffeine appeared to minimize the sprouts’ final height, disrupt the phenotype of the sprout, and slow the sprouts’ rate of growth in comparison with the control pot. This signifies that caffeine has a harmful effect on plants, a result from the calcium deficiency that caffeine induces within cells. A few sources of error were possible in this experiment. First of all, soil is a heterogeneous substance with a non-uniform composition. Some pots may have had more nutritious soil than others, depending on how many nutrients and minerals were in that specific

¹Gupta, Uma, B.S. Gupta. Caffeine and Behavior: Current Views and Research Trends. Boca Raton: CRC Press LLC, 1999. ²Konishi M, Kurihara S. “Effects of caffeine on intracellular calcium concentrations in frog skeletal muscle fibres,” J Physiol. 1987 Feb; 383:269–283. Web. 3 Nov. 2010. ³Hepler, Peter. “Calcium: A Central Regulator of Plant Growth and Development,” The Plant Cell. 2005 May; 17:2142-2155. 4Pozzan T, Rizzuto R, Volpe P, Meldolesi J. “Molecular and cellular physiology of intracellular calcium stores,” Physiol Rev. 1994; 74:595-636. Web. 10 Nov. 2010. Other Sources: Campbell, Neil A. and Reece, Jane B. AP Edition Biology. 7th ed. San Francisco: Pearson Education Inc., 2005. Best, Ben. “Is Caffeine a Health Hazard?” Ben Best’s Online Articles. 2007. Web. 28 Oct. 2010.

11


E OF RU ER ET W TH PO

When flu season comes around, everybody scrambles to buy bottles of hand sanitizer to place in classrooms, restaurants, desks, or bathrooms. Spurred by the claim that it can kill 99.99% of the bacteria on a surface, people eagerly use a simple squirt of this magical solution to prevent sickness. But is this alcohol-based liquid really effective? Hand sanitizers work by stripping away the outer layer of oil on the skin, preventing bacteria present in the body from traveling to the surface of the hand. It tries to kill microbial cells by disrupting the outer coat of the virus and cell membrane of a bacteria. This may seem effective, but the bacteria that are present inside the body normally are usually not capable of causing sickness. Dr. Barbara Almanza, Professor and Director of Graduate Program at Purdue University, suggests that hand sanitizers may even increase the number of bacteria on the hand if the product does not contain FDA recommended ethanol or isopropanol (60-90%). These bottles may say that this solution can get rid of 99.99% of germs, but this statistic is taken in a sterile lab setting. In addition, these solutions are tested on inanimate surfaces, which increase the effectiveness of the solution as compared to when it is used on a hand. Also, when hand sanitizer is used in public environment such as a school, the changes in circumstances render hand sanitizer only 40-60% effective. According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, hand sanitizers must have an alcohol content of at least 60% to be effective. Elaine Larson, Associate Dean for Research at Columbia University School of Nursing, further emphasizes that the active ingredients listed on the bottle (ethyl alcohol oror ethanol, isopropanol or some other variation) must have a concentration isbetween 60 and 95 percent to be effective. Besides ethyl alcohol, hand sanitizer contains water, isopropyl alcohol, glycerin, carbomer, fragrance, aminomethyl propanol, propylene glycol, isopropyl myristate, and tocopheryl acetate. Although there is no specific recommendation from FDA is available for the amount that hand sanitizers should contain, alcohol-free products should contain an antibacterial chemical called benzalkonium. Therefore, the most important thing that consumers must watch out for is the content level of alcohol in the hand sanitizer. Solutions may be disguised as containing a higher level of alcohol than they actually do, and these low-level concentrations of alcohol in hand sanitizers are completely ineffective. In fact, it has been reported that ineffective hand sanitizers spread harmful germs to a wider area, whether or not the hands are visibly dry. Scott Reynolds, a specialist in infection control at the James H. Quillen Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Mountain Home, Tenn., has conducted some investigations on the alcohol content of hand sanitizers. Reynolds and his colleagues discovered a bubble gum-scented sanitizer that called for a half cup of aloe vera gel and a quarter cup of 99% rubbing alcohol, with a bit of fragrance - totaling to about 33% alcohol. Such low-alcohol sanitizers are becoming increasingly prevalent. In October 2005, a FDA-appointed committee met to discuss whether consumers should be encouraged to use hand sanitizers. Dr. Tammy Lundstrom, representing the nonprofit Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, argued in favor of them. She believed that hand sanitizers are more convenient, especially in helping to care for family members who are ill at home. In these cases, still, the FDA recommends that hand

BY SARAH HSU GRAPHIC BY MICHELLE OBERMAN

sanitizers are not used in place of washing hands with soap and water, but only as a supplement to the normal routine. Antibacterial soaps are sufficiently effective in killing bacteria, and hand sanitizers have been proven to increase bacterial resistance to antibiotics in some cases. Moreover, some studies have suggested that persistent use of antibacterial products in general may inhibit proper immune system development in children because they will not have enough exposure to common germs. Thus, the next time you seek a bottle of hand sanitizer, make sure that it is greater than 60% alcohol, for insufficient alcohol content decreases effectiveness and perhaps even worsens the problem. Additionally, according to the CDC, your hands should not be dry within 10 or 15 seconds, which would signal that you have not used enough. And always, hand sanitizer should be regarded as only a supplement to the classic combination of soap and water.

REFERENCES Bailey, Regina. “Hand Sanitizers vs. Soap and Water.” About.com: Biology. About. com, 2010. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://biology.about.com/‌od/‌microbiology/‌a/‌ha ndsanitizers.htm>. Black, Rosemary. “Hand Sanitizer’s Not All That Effective At Battling Colds or the Flu: Study.” NY Daily News. NY Daily News, 14 Sept. 2010. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http:// www.nydailynews.com/‌lifestyle/‌health/‌2010/‌09/‌14/‌2010-09-14_hand_sanitizers_ not_all_that_effective_at_battling_colds_or_the_flu_study.html>. “Checkup: Hand Sanitizer Effectiveness.” Indiana University. Indiana University, 21 Feb. a2010. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://soundmedicine.iu.edu/‌segment/‌2355/‌HandSanitizer-Effectiveness>. Franklin, Deborah. “Hand Sanitizers, Good or Bad? .” New York Times. New York Times, 21 Mar. 2006. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://www.nytimes. com/‌2006/‌03/‌21/‌health/‌21cons.html>. Reading, Savannah. “Hand Sanitizer Effectiveness.” kimt.com. Inergize Digital, 17 Aug. 2010. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://www.kimt.com/‌content/‌localnews/‌story/‌HandSanitizer-Effective

12


a new

in medicine BY REBECCA SU

Throughout history, humans have relied on nature as a source of healing. Natural products, which are chemical compounds produced by living organisms, are widely known for their medicinal properties. Willow bark, for example, has been an age-old remedy for fever and headaches; scientists have since isolated its active compound, salicin, and developed it into the modern-day pain reliever aspirin. Like salicin, the vast majority of natural products discovered to date has been from terrestrial organisms. Marine natural products, on the other hand, have gone largely unnoticed until the past five decades; this emerging field of research presents an exciting new drug discovery process that has its roots not on land, but in the sea. While several compounds have already been isolated from marine organisms, they are only a small sample of this field’s true potential. After all, the ocean covers about 70% of the Earth’s surface and possesses enormous biodiversity. Based on this information, scientists speculate that thousands of species and natural products still remain undiscovered. In addition to their wide availability, marine compounds also exhibit a variety of novel structures and properties. The marine environment itself presents a set of entirely unique challenges to survival, compelling organisms to adapt in various ways. For instance, many potent marine natural products have been isolated from organisms such as sponges and tunicates, which lack the mobility to escape from predators or forage for food. To ensure their survival in a competitive environment, these organisms rely on chemical mechanisms instead; they produce a vast array of compounds that can deter predators or immobilize prey. In humans, these same compounds have demonstrated potential in treating cancer and other diseases. Several distinct factors in the ocean environment have made marine natural products ideal candidates for the drug development process. The significant concentrations of halogens (Br-, Cl-, I-, and IO3- ) in seawater have resulted in halogenated compounds rarely found in terrestrial natural products. This results in a greater variety of compounds because a chemical structure can have a variety of versions due to the presence of different halogens. Halogenation has also been shown to increase the bioactivity of a compound. In addition, because marine natural products are released into the water, they must be highly potent in order to be effective in diluted form. These naturally-occurring characteristics are useful traits in the drug industry. Many marine natural products have attracted interest for their interaction with microtubules, which play a critical role in cell division. These structures form the spindle fibers that separate chromosomes during mitosis, and are made up of smaller subunits of tubulin, a globular protein. Some marine natural products bind to the tubulin subunits, interfering with microtubule assembly and disassembly. A cell with nonfunctional microtubules cannot undergo mitosis, and instead “self-destructs” through a process called apoptosis. Since cancer is essentially unregulated cell division, compounds that interfere with microtubule dynamics can stop tumor growth. One of the most potent antimitotic compounds is dolastatin 10, which was isolated from the marine mollusk Dolabella auricularia. Recently, scientists have also manipulated its chemical structure to make it more bioactive with less toxic side effects. The resulting derivative, called TZT-1027, is now undergoing Phase I clinical trials. In addition to disrupting microtubule dynamics, marine natural products also function as enzyme inhibitors. By slowing or halting the progress of a chemical reaction, marine compounds that inhibit enzymes can block crucial pathways to achieve a variety of biological effects. In competitive inhibition, the compound directly occupies the active site of the enzyme to prevent other substrates from binding to it. For example, aeroplysinin-1 (from the sponge Verongia aerophoba) competitively binds to Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR), an enzyme that relays messages across the cell membrane. By inhibiting this critical enzyme, it reduces cancer cell proliferation and triggers apoptosis. Meanwhile, other marine natural products rely on noncompetitive inhibition, in which the inhibitor alters the structure of the active site so that substrates

can no longer bind to it. In fact, didemnin B, one of the earliest marine natural products to be isolated, interrupts protein synthesis within a cell by noncompetitively inhibiting palmitoyl protein thioesterase. After its discovery in 1981 from the tunicate Tridemnum solidum, it became the first marine natural product to undergo clinical trials as an anti-cancer drug. Since then, it has also been modified to form a variety of less toxic derivatives, such as dehydrodidemnin B. A new area of research in the realm of marine natural products concerns metabolites that are found in marine microorganisms such as bacteria. Since many of these microorganisms maintain symbiotic relationships with larger hosts such as sponges, several properties originally attributed to the host organism are now being traced back to marine microbes. Since these microorganisms reproduce quickly, harvesting compounds from the microbe instead of the host could solve the supply shortages associated with many marine species. Based on discoveries in recent decades, it is evident that the ocean is an invaluable resource for drug development. Marine natural products possess a variety of unique structures and properties that are virtually nonexistent in the terrestrial world. Furthermore, recent advances in underwater exploration, such as scuba diving, have made marine natural products more readily obtainable for research. With the ability to treat cancer and other prevalent diseases, these remarkably versatile compounds are indeed nature’s gifts from the sea.

GRAPHIC BY SARA SHU REFERENCES Akashi Y. et al. “The novel microtubule-interfering agent TZT-1027 enhances the anticancer effect of radiation in vitro and in vivo.” British Journal of Cancer 96 (2007): 1532-1539. Web. 1 Mar. 2010. “Didemnin B.” Marine Biotech. Web. 23 Nov. 2010. <http://marinebiotech.org/ didemninb.html>. Fenical, William. “Natural Products Chemistry in the Marine Environment.” Science 215.4535 (1982): 923-928. Web. 1 Mar. 2010. Haefner, Burkhard. “Drugs from the deep: marine natural products as drug candidates.” Drug Discovery Today 8.12 (2003): 536-544. Web. 13 Jan. 2010. Molinski, Tadeusz F. et al. “Drug development from marine natural products.” Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 8 (2009): 69-85. Web. 3 Mar. 2010. Rahman, Hafizur et al. “Novel Anti-Infective Compounds from Marine Bacteria.” Marine Drugs 8 (2010): 498-518. Web. 6 Mar. 2010. Simmons, T. Luke et al. “Marine natural products as anticancer drugs.” Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 4.2 (2005): 333-342. Web. 16 Feb. 2010. Stryer, Lubert. Biochemistry. 1975. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman and Company, 1981.

13


STEIN CLINICAL ORIGINAL RESEARCH:

INFLAMMATION

& FAT CELLS BY SIDDHARTHO BHATTACHARYA

THE EFFECT OF INFLAMMATION SIGNALS ON THE SIGNALING PATHWAY OF V-CAM-1 AND THE ABILITY FOR HORMONE ANTAGONISTS TO TREAT TYPE II DIABETES. ABSTRACT Many drugs are widely used to treat a variety of diseases without having undergone extensive testing to determine the exact mechanisms of their function. Limited testing can have significant consequences; for example, a discovery by Dr. David Rose demonstrated that certain drugs which function as estrogen/androgen antagonists often failed to repress breast/prostate cancer growth in the respective cells, and in some cases even worsened the problem. This phenomenon was linked to inflammation signals, which are extremely common in a variety of illnesses, interfering with the normal signal transduction pathways (series of small reactions and interactions with cell parts) of these drugs/ hormones by inhibiting the normal gene repression of cancerous growth. This recent study conducted at the Stein Clinical building at the University of California at San Diego attempts to show a similar pathway and possible conclusion concerning endocrine hormones and their role in type 2 diabetes in adipocytes (fat cells and pre-fat cells). BACKGROUND The endocrine signaling system involves releasing hormones directly in the bloodstream to reach target cells and cause a change in cell behavior. Many hormones, such as insulin, are proteins that bind to highly specific receptors to affect only the intended target cells. With the binding of the hormone to the receptors (which lie on the membrane of a cell), a signal transduction pathway eventually carries a signal to the nucleus. This signal triggers a series of changes in gene expression in order to change the cell’s behavior and produce the effect of the hormone. In order for this to occur, a receptor on the nuclear membrane for the final step in the signal process binds directly to the DNA, in a zone upstream from the region of transcription known as the promoter. Steroid hormones (such as estrogen and androgen), which are lipid-based and pass through the membrane, directly binds to the final nuclear receptor, which in turn binds to the promoter of a DNA strand. Once these receptors, along with their hormone/hormone signal, bind to the promoter, they recruit a variety of gene transcription factors which influence DNA transcription. Depending upon the function of the hormone, these transcription factors may consist of coactivators (which promote gene transcription) or corepressors (which inhibit it) to influence the gene’s effects. For example, estrogen induces coactivation of growth-related genes; however, over-activation may lead to cancer and naturally, the body also inhibits these genes with corepressors. One very important corepressor complex mentioned throughout this study is the NCoR, TAB-2, HDAC-3 complex, which together form a giant complex that is crucial to gene inhibition. The signal pathway inflammation signals mentioned in this study involve TNFalpha and IL-1Beta, two cytokines (small, cell-signalling protein molecules) which are released from nearby cells. Both of these inflammation signals trigger the signaling pathway to increase the transcription factor NFkappaB, which is responsible for increasing the production of V-CAM-1, a protein that serves as a receptor for macrophages (a variety of white blood cells that engulf pathogens) on the membrane. It should also be noted that V-CAM-1 activates more IL-1Beta from macrophages that bind to it, effectively creating an increasing feedback loop whose chronic repetition may cause prob-

lems. Normally, the NCoR complex, in addition to other functions, inhibits this loop to prevent it from over-occurring. Increases in V-CAM-1 will be analogous to increased inflammation, and may be referred to in this study as inflammation of cells. HYPOTHESIS It is hypothesized that the presence of inflammation signals such as IL-1Beta in coupling with hormone antagonists/drugs will trigger, in addition to the traditional NFKappaB - VCAM path, the alternate MEKK-1 pathway which produces a protein kinase to phosphorylate (attach a phosphate group to) the TAB-2 protein of the NCoR complex. This phosphorylation marks that entire complex with the nuclear export signal, causing this vital corepressor complex to leave the nucleus and thus allow for the uninhibited transcription of genes controlling growth, inflammation, etc.Major Experiments For each of these experiments, 3T3-L1 mouse adipocytes were grown in culture and used unless otherwise noted. In all staining procedures, the cell samples were mounted on glass slides on cover slips using Gelvatol, which contains DAPI, a blue stain that binds to DNA to allow identification of separate cells. Microscopes with fluorescent spectroscopy capabilities were used to observe all staining results. 1. Immunofluorescent Staining for V-CAM-1: This experiment was a control experiment to see if the V-CAM-1 pathway was present and functioning normally in 3T3-L1 cells. The location of VCAM-1 in the cells after being stimulated by IL-1Beta and TNFalpha tested for this. Three samples of cells were used in a well plate, with the first having no additional stimulation, the second being treated with TNFalpha, and the third being treated with IL-1Beta. These were stained through immunocytochemistry, a process which involves primary antibodies binding to the protein of interest and then binding secondary antibodies, which are conjugated to the HRP (horse radish peroxidase) enzyme, to the primary antibodies. Finally, a DAB (3,3’-diaminobenzidine) substrate was mixed in when the secondary antibodies were added, starting the catalyzing reaction of the HRP to produce a brown pigment visible to the naked eye that would appear and indicate where V-CAM-1 was present. Details: Primary antibody used was rat anti V-CAM-1. Secondary antibody used was HRP conjugated anti-rat in DAB substrate. 2. Immunofluorescent Staining for NCoR: This experiment was structured similarly to the V-CAM-1 staining, but looked for the presence of NCoR. Cells samples were the same as in the earlier experiment. Instead of HRP - DAB cytochemistry, this stain process used a pri-

14


mary antibody that binds to NCoR and a secondary antibody conjugated with a red fluorescent dye called Rhodamine to indicate the presence and location of NCoR with a red glow. This is visible only when exposed to light of a certain frequency, which excites the chromophores (the part of the molecule that is responsible for color through changing its shape) on the dye to emit light; this is possible with an advanced microscope. Details: Primary antibody used was rabbit anti-NCoR. Secondary antibody used was Rhodamine conjugated anti-rabbit. 3. Co-localization Staining for NCoR and TAB-2: This experiment was structured similarly to the NCoR staining, but looked for two proteins simultaneously to see the location of each in relation to one another. Cell samples were the same as in the earlier experiment. This stain process used two primary antibodies, one binding to NCoR, the other to TAB-2. The secondary antibody for the TAB-2 was conjugated with Rhodamine to give a red glow, while the secondary for the NCoR was conjugated with FITC-Phalloidin, a dye that functions similarly to Rhodamine but glows green. The presence of both in the same location would produce a yellow stain on the microscope. Details: Primary antibody 1 was mouse anti-NCoR and primary 2 was rabbit anti- TAB-2. Secondary antibody 1 was FITC-Phalloidin conjugated anti-mouse and secondary 2 was Rhodamine conjugated anti-rabbit. 4. Western Blot: This experiment involved separating proteins by the length of their amino acid chain with gel electrophoresis, transferring and blotting them on a membrane, and then identifying a protein by treating it with antibodies which are bound to HRP. In the final step, an HRP substrate was added to induce bioluminescence (not brown pigment stains) which could then be captured on an X-ray film to show the relative amount of protein present. A darker band appeared if the film captured more bioluminescence due to more protein present. This process was done for TAB-2, VCAM-1, NCoR, and for other experiments mentioned below. As previously done, the samples include no addition, TNFAlpha, and IL-1Beta. 5. Co - immunoprecipitation (Co-IP) of NCoR- TAB-2 and NCoR - HDAC-3: This experiment determined if two proteins were in a complex (bonded to each other) by taking agarose (a sticky, gel-like substance) beads and attaching them to specific antibodies. Once these were bound, the solution was centrifuged to produce a pellet with all the heavy beads at the bottom. This pellet was extracted and separated, and samples were loaded on to a gel to be separated and then put on a western blot. In the western blot, an antibody was applied for the second protein, which was suspected to be in a complex with the protein pulled down by the agarose beads. If that secondary protein was present, a band appeared and confirmed that the two proteins were in a complex. The lack of a band showed that the two did not form a complex. TAB-2 and HDAC-3 were two proteins isolated by the agarose while the western blot looked for NCoR to determine if the two proteins were each in a complex with NCoR.

6. MICRO-INJECTION: This extremely powerful technique attempted to detect the activation or repression of V-CAM-1 by utilizing corresponding promoters and binding them to a gene that acts merely as a signal (i.e. a gene for producing blue pigmants), and then injecting these created plasmids into cells of interest. The plasmids contained genes for Lac-z, which produces a blue pigment when the promoter (in this case for V-CAM-1) is expressed, are injected along with Rhodamine to dye the injected cells red. A drug used to treat type-II diabetes (Rosiglitazone) was treated to one sample of cells in contrast to the control group. CONCLUSION It was shown through many different results that indeed the inflammation signal of IL-1Beta interfered with the cell-signaling pathway. It can be concluded that the NCoR complex was exported out of the nucleus, causing repeated, uninhibited production of V-CAM-1 and more inflammation signals. All control experiments demonstrated that the processes hypothesized exists in 3T3-L1 cells, and that the NCoR complex does indeed include TAB-2 and HDAC-3 and all are present, as evidenced by the positive Co-IP result. The co-localization staining experiments demonstrated that NCoR and TAB-2 was present in the cytoplasm once treated with IL-1Beta (showing that they were exported) as opposed to the control where both remained inside the nucleus. V-CAM-1 was found on the cell membrane as expected. The western blots showed a clear increase in the production of V-CAM-1 as a thicker band developed when treated with IL-1Beta, supporting the conclusion that production of VCAM-1 went unchecked through lack of NCoR-induced gene repression, as compared to the thin bands of the controls. Finally, the micro injection technique gave the clearest proof that the inflammation interfered with the pathway since the cells treated with IL-1Beta and Rosilitazone (which was supposed to inhibit expression) still expressed V-CAM-1, compared to the control of no expression when IL-1Beta was not present. This is a clear indication that drugs that involve hormone antagonists require much more extensive testing. The finding that inflammation alters the effect of these drugs will influence the release of new drugs and the way patients are given treatment for type II diabetes. With the knowledge that inflammation may drastically alter the pathways of drugs and natural endocrine signals, scientists and pharmacists will hopefully be able to better understand these processes and produce newer drugs that are more effective in dealing with diseases such as diabetes. I was a member of this research at the Stein Clinical building at the University of California, San Diego in July to August 2010 under Dr. David Rose and with Tony Chou, Laura Chavez, Michael Comaduran, Alberto Gomez, Irma Gonzales, Yunan Kim, Linda Pham, Karina Santellano, Brian Tran, and John Vo. Zhu P, Baek SH, Bourk EM, Ohgi KA, Garcia-Bassets I, Sanjo H, Akira S, Kotol PF, Glass CK, Rosenfeld MG, Rose DW. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Macrophage/Cancer Cell Interactions Mediate Hormone Resistance by a Nuclear Receptor Depression Pathway.â&#x20AC;? Cell. 124.4 (2006 Feb 10): 615-29. PubMed. Web. 31 Dec. 2010.

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THE ORIGIN OF and its applications BY NATHAN MANOHAR GRAPHIC BY CARRIE YANG The common definition of an imaginary number, or complex number, is the square root of a negative number. The concept of i is straightforward enough: since i is the square root of -1, then it logically follows that i squared must be equal to -1. Although the square root of a negative number is often considered undefined, the brilliance of complex numbers lies in the assumption that this square root is nonetheless meaningful. Since almost all of the basic properties of algebra or real numbers apply to complex numbers, they are merely an extension of the real number system. In a way, complex numbers are just as “real” as real numbers. Complex numbers have had a rather intricate history in their naming. Originally termed imaginary numbers by Rene Descartes, the term complex number became more popular following Carl Friedrich Gauss’s work in the subject. Gauss was the first to represent a complex number as a point in a plane, where the real part would be located on the x-axis and the imaginary part would be located on the y-axis. Other great mathematicians, including Euler, Cauchy, and Riemann, would also contribute to the discovery of the properties and applications of this new number system. Complex numbers were rejected by most of the mathematical community upon their discovery, as the general view was that these numbers lacked meaning and were therefore preposterous. However, Rafael Bombelli thwarted these claims (perhaps more by chance than intent, as he was not fully convinced of this new concept) when he showed a way to reach the solution of a depressed cubic equation by using complex numbers. A depressed cubic equation is simply a cubic equation without an x^2 term. For example, the depressed cubic equation that Bombelli solved through the use of complex numbers was x^3 – 15x - 4 = 0. Using the Ferro-Tartaglia formula, which gives a solution to a depressed cubic equation like the quadratic formula gives the solutions to a quadratic equation, Bombelli found that x was equal to a term containing the square root of -121. Previous mathematicians had ignored this result because it involved the square root of a negative number and considered this particular depressed cubic equation to be an exception to the general formula. Bombelli wondered if perhaps this solution for x did have significance despite containing a seemingly absurd negative square root. Bombelli manipulated the term using accepted rules of algebra. By treating the square root of -1 as a separate identity, he was able to simplify the result for x from the cubed root of (2 + the square root of -121) + the cubed root of (2 – the square root of -121) into (2 + the square root of -1) + (2 – the square root of -1). This term is obviously equal to 4, which shocked the mathematical world because 4 was undoubtedly a solution to the depressed cubic equation, yet the solution had been derived through an unconventional method. Regardless of whether complex numbers had any tangible meaning, it could no longer be argued that they were not beneficial. Following Bombelli’s achievements, the art of complex analysis has been refined and perfected. A complex number is traditionally written as z = x + iy, but it can also be written in polar form, where z = r * e^(i * theta), and r represents the distance between the point and the origin on the complex plane. This stems from Euler’s famous identity, which states that e^(i * theta) = cos(theta) + i * sin(theta). At first sight, this formula appears to be ludicrous because in the real number system, the functions e, cosine, and sine are not interrelated. Yet Euler’s identity is unmistakably true and can be proven trivially using power series representations for these three elementary functions. Similar to how Einstein was able to correlate mass and energy, Euler succeeded in revealing a connection between the exponential function and

trigonometric functions in the complex domain, a connection that would have otherwise been unnoticed for centuries had mathematicians dealt solely with real numbers. Once complex numbers are clearly defined, complex functions can also become significant. Using Gauss’s model that represents a complex number as a point in a plane, a complex function can be thought of as a function that takes a region on one complex plane as the domain and maps it onto the corresponding region on another complex plane. Since complex functions exist, then it naturally follows that one can take derivatives and integrals of these functions. A complex function is said to be analytic if its derivative exists not only at a point, but also at all the points within a disk of radius r around that point. Essentially, a function is analytic if its derivative can be found at a point and at nearby points. Similarly, the integral of a complex function is also defined. Since a complex number is a point on a plane rather than a point on a number line (as is the case for real numbers), a complex integral is the line integral over a contour in the complex plane, rather than simply over a segment of the number line. One of the highlights of complex integration is the Cauchy-Goursat theorem, which claims that if a complex function is analytic in a simply connected domain, and there is also a simply closed contour inside the domain, then the integral of the function over this contour is zero. The terms “simply connected” and “simply closed” are merely ways of saying that the domain and the contour both enclose a region and the boundary of that region does not overlap with itself. For example, a basic circle in the complex plane would constitute a simply closed contour. The usefulness of this theorem lies in its extension, which states that if there are two contours both located in a domain, one contour is interior to the other, and the domain contains the entire region between the two contours, then the complex integrals of a function over these two contours are the same. It is obviously very advantageous to use this theorem in problem solving, because complex integrals over very complicated and irregularly shaped contours can, for example, be simplified into complex integrals over ordinary circles. Using similar techniques, a branch of complex analysis called residue theory can be used to solve integrals of real functions over real domains that, without the aid of complex analysis, would be impossible to solve. Essentially, the real integral can be transformed into a solvable complex integral, which yields the same result that the real integral would have produced if there was a method to solve it, making the CauchyGoursat theorem extremely beneficial to mathematicians. Additionally, complex analysis has many practical applications in the real world. Solutions to many physics and engineering problems can be found with the help of complex variables. For example, complex analysis is used to analyze fluid flow (flow of gases or liquids). A technique used regularly to design airplane wings, conformal mapping, allows a complicated problem such as the flow of air around an airplane wing to be converted into a much simpler problem, such the flow of air around a circle, which can be solved much more easily than the former. Complex analysis is also used in elliptic curve cryptography. An elliptic curve is a quadratic equation that has complex variables for x and y instead of the traditional real variables. In elliptic curve cryptography, conjugate points on the curve are used to encode and decode a message. This method is commonly used to secure websites and confidential information from public view. Complex analysis is used in electromagnetism to solve for the electric and magnetic fields in electrical systems as well. As a result, it it useful in designing microwave cavities that power microwave ovens, and it can also be utilized to design antennas for radios, televisions, and cell phones. The complex number was once scoffed at by mathematicians and continues to remain an elusive concept for many. Yet it has thoroughly proved its value by becoming both essential in problem solving and intertwined with numerous technological advances.

REFERENCES Churchill, Ruel, James Brown, and Roger Verhey. Complex Variables and Applications. New York: McGraw-Hill Inc., 1976. Mathews, John and Russell Howell. Complex Analysis for Mathematics and Engineering. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2001. Trim, Donald. Complex Analysis and Its Applications. Boston: PWS Publishing Company, 1996.

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SpectroPens:

A Handheld Breakthrough BY KRISTINE PAIK

GRAPHIC BY CRYSTAL LI

It used to be that a cancer diagnosis was akin to a dreaded death sentence. Today, steady changes in living habits have drastically decreased mortality rates, and billions have been spent on cancer research to find treatments and possible cures. Progress has been slow, but the recent, innovative SpectroPens, devices able to detect cancer cells, may shed more light on how to battle uncontrolled cell growth. Traditional surgical procedures are called invasive surgery, because the removal of uncontrolled cells can pose a threat to nearby organs. The incision process relies on the surgeon’s ability to approximate the location of cancer cell growths from pre-operation scans, but this often leaves leftover cancer cells that grow into another tumor. Finding these tumors is difficult; normal tissue and cancerous tissue all look the same to the eye, and during operation, other methods such as positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging are impossible. Additionally, traditional surgical procedures for cancer have a high-risk factor if the operation is on a vital organ and the organ is damaged by the cutting method. The SpectroPen is a recently developed alternative to traditional surgery; news concerning them was released in October 2010 by the Emory University School of Medicine, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Pennsylvania through the journal Analytical Chemistry. This device, which is handheld like a pen and thus fitting to its name, uses a nearinfrared laser and a light detector, and transmits fluorescence and Raman signals (associated with vibrations of a molecule that reveal its geometry) to a spectrometer through a fiber optic cable. SpectroPens work by detecting dyes or agents that bind to cancerous cells. First, particles that consist of a dye (such as indocyanine green), gold that amplifies the dye, and an antibody that binds to the surface of tumor cells more than that of normal cells are injected into the body. These particles collect rapidly in tumor cells due to the presence of leaky blood vessels around tumors. When a SpectroPen shines on tissue, the device’s near-infrared radiation causes the dye to emit a strong glow, and the gold particles produce surface-enhanced Raman scattering signals, which amplify the fluorescence of the dye. The amplified glow resulting from Raman signals strongly differentiates between normal and cancerous cells. This signal data is then transmitted to the spectrometer, after which it can be analyzed to pinpoint the location and size of tumors smaller than 1 millimeter. Compared to invasive surgery, SpectroPens seem more promising in ensuring precision. SpectroPens are currently undergoing further laboratory tests, and with in-vivo tests already in development, the device could be used in a few years in real-time operation rooms. The James Provenzale of University of Georgia of Veterinary Medicine is currently using SpectroPens to operate on dogs, and clinical trials are in motion at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine under the direction of Sunil Singhal; if the device lives up to its expectations, a breakthrough in cancer research may also be close at hand. After billions of dollars spent in cancer research, the SpectroPen may provide insights on reaching higher success rates for operations, and may become the biggest breakthrough in cancer research yet. The battle against cancer, as persistent as the disease itself, will not be ending anytime soon, but the SpectroPen is a step forward - perhaps soon to be live at the nearest operation room. REFERENCES: Mukhopadhyay, Rajendrani. SpectroPen Pinpoints Lingering Tumor Tissue. Chemical and Engineering News, Oct. 15, 2010. Web. Oct.30, 2010. <http://pubs.acs.org/cen/ news/88/i42/8842news7.html> Quick, Darren. SpectroPen Shines a Light on Tumors in Real Time. Gizmag, Oct.11, 2010. Web. Oct. 30, 2010. <http://www.gizmag.com/spectropen/16658/> Bazell, Robert. More Profit Than Progress in Cancer Research. Msnbc, June 10, 2008. Web. Oct. 30, 2010. <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24930000/> Emory University School of Medicine. “SpectroPen” Could Aid Surgeons in Detecting Edges of Tumors. Georgia Tech, Oct. 11, 2010. Web. Oct. 30, 2010. <http://www.gatech. edu/newsroom/release.html?nid=62118> American Cancer Society. Surgery. American Cancer Society, Aug. 9, 2010. Web. Oct. 30,2010. <http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/TreatmentTypes/ Surgery/surgery-and-cancer>

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> WRITTEN BY SARAH LEE GRAPHIC BY APOORVA MYLAVARAPU

> What happens when you put good people in an evil place? Does humanity win or does evil triumph? In 1971, Philip Zimbardo, a professor at Stanford University, conducted one of the most well-known experiences in the history of psychology to explore the essence of human nature. > On a quiet Sunday, 24 undergraduates were arrested after volunteering for a psychological study on prison life and its effects. They were chosen as test subjects because Zimbardo thought they were the most physically healthy and psychologically stable. But such normal-seeming people did not come across as criminals to the average onlooker--one may wonder, what crimes had they committed? > The experiment took place in the transformed basement of Stanford’s Psychology Department building. Twenty-four students had been randomly divided into two even groups: guards and prisoners, and the "prisoners" were fooled to think that the building was an actual jail. There, they were fingerprinted, given ID numbers, forced to wear dress-like smocks, and humiliated by being stripped and shaved. In addition, they were also given ankle chains, which served as a symbolic reminder of their confinement. > And so the experiment started. At 2:30 AM, the prisoners were jolted awake for a headcount. They were forced to do push ups, as well as other grueling tasks and punishments. As a result, a rebellion erupted the very next day. The prisoners refused to comply with the guards, ripped off their ID tags, and barricaded themselves within their cells. It was completely unexpected, and the guards became angry at their loss of control. They shot “streams of bone-chilling CO2” from fire extinguishers into the cells and began to harass and intimidate the prisoners. At one point, even going to the bathroom was regulated. Everyday, conditions within the cells became harsher and more hostile. > In addition to physical and verbal abuse, the guards also employed psychological tactics to tame the prisoners. For example, they set up a ‘privilege cell' that housed both obedient and rebellious prisoners. The purpose was to confuse the prisoners and thus stir distrust and break their alliances. After only a day and a half, some prisoners were already showing symptoms of hysteria; they were crying, screaming, and cursing. One prisoner became so emotionally unstable that he had to be released prematurely. As the harassment increased, so did the humiliation. By this time, the students were totally engrossed in their own roles as guard or prisoner. The guards had become overly aggressive while the prisoners became unresponsive or depressed. The extent of the punishments became frightening. > The experiment was originally planned to last for two weeks, but it came to a halt after only six days because the whole situation had gone out of hand. Once the experiment stopped, the students immediately snapped out of their roles. Their true identities resurfaced, and they rediscovered their inner morals, shocked at their own actions. Some of the “guards” became disgusted and horrified at what they were capable of, and many of the “prisoners” held lingering hostile feelings toward the guards. > How did these perfectly sane volunteers forget their own identities and morals? Was it a revelation of human’s inherently evil nature? The Society for Neuroscience attempts to explain the guards’ aggressive behaviors with science, using the term “proactive aggression.” This usually occurs when rational control gets out of hand, especially with contributing environmental factors. Aggression can be explained by chemical imbalances in the brain structure amygdale, which controls emotions. The chemical imbalance of serotonin could also be a link to the violence and depression seen in the experiment. An enzyme called Mononamine Oxidase (MO-A) breaks down chemicals like serotonin. Research, conducted by Dr. Jeffrey Meyer, has shown that a majority of depressed individuals have on average 34% higher levels of MO-A. While the reason for that trend is still unknown, researchers know that the higher MO-A levels lead to lower levels of serotonin because there is more enzyme (MO-A) present to break down the serotonin. The imbalance causes depression, which could potentially explain the prisoner’s behaviors as well. > However, to completely rely on science to explain the students’ actions is to undermine the extent of our humanity. Somewhere along the lines, role playing disappeared, and personal identities took over. Perhaps it was hidden selfish pride and a desire to dominate that drove some volunteers toward their actions. In a post-experimental interview, one of the guards stated, “I didn’t feel any regret at what I was doing until afterwards, when I reflected.” Zimbardo and the researchers concluded that when humans are left alone, they tend to lean toward power-thirsty objectives, even at the cost of dehumanizing others. > Perhaps the results of this experiment are not indicative of human nature. We cannot ever really know for sure. The reasons behind our actions and the motives of the human mind remain a mystery. For now, we can only walk upon blurry lines. REFERENCES: Nauert, Rick. "Depression’s Chemical Imbalance Explained." Psych Central 10 November 2006: n. pag. Web. 31 Oct 2010. <http://psychcentral.com/ news/2006/11/09/depressions-chemical-imbalance-explained/398.html>. Society for Neuroscience, . "Brain Briefings-pathological agression." Society for Neuroscience. N.p., March 2007. Web. 1 Nov 2010. <http://www.sfn.org/index. aspx?pagename=brainBriefings_PathologicalAggression>. Zimbardo, . "Stanford prison experiment." Stanford prison experiment. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Oct 2010. <http://www.prisonexp.org/>

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Deadliest

TREATING THE

BY PETER KHAW

There is a treatment for HIV and cancer, yet it remains unknown to the public. HIV and cancer are the two most deadly diseases, with HIV killing about 3.1 million people and cancers killing 7 million people every year. However, both HIV and cancer can be treated by re-activating macrophages with GcMAF injections. GcMAF is the most potent macrophage activating factor. To understand what GcMAF is and how it works, the basics of HIV and cancer are necessities. The human immunodeficiency virus's (HIV) origins are unclear, but many speculate that it first came from primates, and then mutated to infect humans. HIV can be transmitted through body fluids and from mother to child. When the virus enters the body, it attacks the body's white blood cells, the cells that fight off diseases. The virus inserts its DNA into the cells to reproduce, and when the new viruses are released, the white blood cell host dies. This leads to a weakened immune system, or AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), a condition in which diseases can infect the body more easily. Cancer is a disease that affects cell division, causing cells to multiply out of control, making masses of cancerous cells called tumors. Cancerous cells do not function as they are supposed to; they cease working for the body and only produce more non-functioning cells, causing tissues and organs to shut down because their cells aren't doing any work. Cancer cells continue to spread throughout the body, affecting many organs until it is removed or the person dies. So how can HIV and cancer both be treated by the same injection? The answer is nagalase, a protein secreted by both HIVinfected cells as well as all cancer tumors. Nagalase is an enzyme that removes a sugar molecule from the protein Gc. The removal of the sugar stops the creation of GcMAF, so macrophages, a type of white blood cell, cannot be activated. To treat the secretion of nagalase in the body, GcMAF is directly injected into the body to activate macrophages. Once the macrophages are activated, they can fight off diseases, targeting the HIV infected cells and cancer tumors. This treatment has already undergone experimentation and treatment. In 2008, Dr. Nobuto Yamamoto of the Socrates Institute for

Therapeutic Immunology published 3 reports on the activation of the immune system, in which he described his experiments GcMAF to balance nagalase levels in HIV and cancer patients during the past decade. In the HIV experiment, 15 HIV infected patients were injected with 100 ng (nanograms are 1 billionth of a gram) of GcMAF weekly, for 18 weeks. By the end of 18 weeks, the nagalase level in their bodies was as low as that of a healthy person, demonstrating the purging of the virus. A similar test with cancer showed equally favorable results. Sixteen prostate cancer patients were given 100 ng of GcMAF weekly. All patients had normal levels of nagalase and were tumor-free after 24 weeks of GcMAF treatment. In both studies, the disease did not return until about 7 years later after the treatment, at which time patients can simply start using GcMAF injections again. Dr. Yamamoto's studies and clinical trials show that GcMAF can U W A GEL N successfully treat cancer and AIDS. A BY PHIC A Furthermore, there are no apparent R G negative side effects associated with GcMAF injections, because it is a compound that humans make apparently. Researchers in Japan have also published articles on GcMAF treatment, including Dr. Judah Folkman, a leading researcher in cancer treatment who collaborated with Dr. Yamamoto in his study. Although this treatment is a potential cure for the leading causes of deaths in the world, it is not yet in major medical publications or the news. Bill Sardi, 2009, writes for the National Health Foundation, "Dr. Yamamoto does not want undue pressure applied to the National Cancer Institute. He says he intends to work with a pharmaceutical company to develop GcMAF. But it has been 6 years since he patented GcMAF... the cancer research industry may be hiding the most promising cure for cancer ever to be documented because it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know how to profit from it." But once the GcMAF treatment does come onto public markets, it could impact people globally. Harmful cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation may even become obsolete. HIV and AIDS will no longer affect the estimated 42 million people they do now. GcMAF will take cancer and HIV off the top 10 list of deadliest diseases and save millions of people every year.

REFERENCES "Cancer." World Health Organization. Feb. 2009. <http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs297/en/index.html> "Cancer: Number 1 Killer." BBC News. 9 Nov. 2000. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/1015657.stm> Sardi, Bill. "GcMAF Cancer Cure Update: A Proven Cure for HIV Infection and Cancer Ignored by Mainstream Medicine and News Media." National Health Federation. 20 May 2009. <http://www.thenhf.com/article.php?id=771> "What are the World's Most Deadliest Viruses?." 2009. <http://www.blurtit.com/q2211260.html> Yamamoto, Nobuto. "Immunotherapy for Prostate Cancer with Gc Protein-Derived Macrophage-Activating Factor, GcMAF." Translational Oncology. June 2008. <http://www.transonc.com/pdf/manuscript/v01i02/neo08106.pdf> Yamamoto, Nobuto. "Immunotherapy of HIV-infected patients with Gc protein-derived macrophage activating factor." Journal of Medical Virology. 21 Nov 2008.

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REMOTE a person’s actions speak for themselves.

CONTROLLED HUMANS

But what happens if actions can be controlled by someone else?

BY SARAH BHATTACHARJEE Once merely an idea from a comic book or movie, the concept of remote controlling humans is now a possibility. Sending electrical impulses to a nerve in the ear that governs the body’s sense of movement and balance can cause a person to become disoriented and lose control over movement. This process, called Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation (GVS), has existed for a century, but has only recently gained notice. The electrical impulses that result in imbalance enable changes in a person’s movement. Yuri Kageyama, a tester of the invention, compared the effect to “an invisible hand... reaching inside your brain,” and went on to describe it as “unnerving and exhausting” because the electricity forced her to change direction while fighting to keep balance. Despite the eeriness of the impulses, Ms. Kageyama says that it was “painless but dramatic” and believes that it could have practical uses in institutions and businesses. Such possibilities have drawn the attention of military personnel. Since it is painless and results in no lasting damage, GVS could be a quick way of subduing an enemy. Timothy Hullar, an assistant professor at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo., mentioned that GVS would be a non-violent choice of weaponry for events in which “killing might not be necessary.” The procedure can also be used by the entertainment industry. Timing the electrical current emitted during GVS to the beat of a song could help a person “enjoy” and get “in touch” with music more. However, Yuri Kageyama described it as though “my head was pulsating against my will, getting jerked around on my neck.” Though Ms. Kageyama did not enjoy the sensation, Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Co., the company which ran the tests, believes her discomfort was a reflection of her lack of musical abilities. Apparently, numerous testers enjoyed the feeling and went so far as to compare it to a “virtual drug.” NTT believes that GVS could be implemented in video games and amusement parks as well. The use of GVS in car-racing games, for example, could simulate the actual feeling of a car ride. Players would be able to “enter” the game and better experience its virtual reality. GVS could even have applications in health care; it could help individuals with a weak sense of balance, such as the elderly, to regain balance and reinforce their movements. NTT hopes to transform these ideas into reality and introduce GVS to numerous companies. But what cost will we have to pay for this help? The loss of our choices? NTT maintains that its objective is to help people, yet where is the guarantee? Though the concept is enticing, and the motive altruistic, most of us may rather keep our choices to ourselves and let our actions be solely our own. REFERENCES “Japan Developing Remote Control for Humans.” MIND POWER NEWS: Unleash Your Mind Power to Create Health, Wealth and Success. Web. 24 Mar. 2011. <http://www.mindpowernews.com/RemoteControlHumans.htm>. “Remote-Controlled Humans - Forbes.com.” Information for the World’s Business Leaders - Forbes.com. Web. 24 Mar. 2011. <http:// www.forbes.com/2005/08/04/technology-remote-control-humans_cx_ lh_0804remotehuman.html>.

GRAPHIC BY MEGAN CHANG

20


GRAPHIC BY JENNIFER KIM

The Unsolved Case of Euthanasia By RUOCHEN HUANG

EUTHANASIA ALLOWS A SUFFERING INDIVIDUAL TO MAKE A CHOICE:

TO END ALL SUFFERING OR TO PERSEVERE.

A terminally ill individual is given a choice: to end suffering eternally or to persevere in the hope that the pain will eventually subside. This brings to the forefront one of the most debated issues in health care— euthanasia. In essence, this debate is a question of ethics--a study of the contrasts between deontology (the means justify the ends) and utilitarianism (the ends justify the means). One side maintains that goodness depends on rightness of an action, whereas the other calls for pleasure over pain. As bio-ethicist Luke Gormally writes, “Society’s prohibition of intentional killing ...is the cornerstone of law and social relationships. It protects each of us impartially, embodying the belief that all are equal.” Also, politicians have stated that human life “has dignity at every age; the taking of innocent human life is always wrong”(Bauer). In contrast, some philosophers write, “the greatest happiness of the greatest number should be the end and aim of all social and political institutions”(Bentham). These opposing views represent the multifaceted controversy surrounding euthanasia. In order to understand why euthanasia exists, one must first examine its basic structure and related terminology. Euthanasia is the direct act of intentionally killing a patient. In this case, if one lethal injection is not enough, greater doses are given until the patient perishes. Active euthanasia (or euthanasia by action) is caused by an act, such as an overdose in toxins or lethal injection, whereas passive euthanasia (or euthanasia by omission) is caused by exemption, such as refraining from giving medical treatment or ordinary care, including food and water. Furthermore, there are times when the patient is in excruciating pain and unable to speak. This situation brings into question voluntary and involuntary euthanasia. Voluntary euthanasia is given by the word of the patient, and involuntary euthanasia does not have the consent of the patient. Therefore, there is a fine line between murder and involuntary euthanasia due to the relativity of the action. Once confirmed that a patient has only a short period of time to live, is there a duty to perish? Consider this scenario. This patient is very sick and in excruciating pain. Death is imminent and treatment will only delay it. The family is in a financial crisis and will very soon be unable to pay for the medical costs to sustain this patient. Therefore, this patient not only affects one individual, but also a group of people connected to the patient. This patient may have the duty to consider their family as they may be emotionally collapsed, financially broke, physically inept, and neglected. As philosopher John Hardwig states, the duty to perish becomes more prudent when the patient has already lived a full life, is approaching old age, and has lost characteristics that people remember most. In contrast, there are many moral and religious views against the use of euthanasia. Opponents argue that it devalues life, because it suggests that disabled people are inferior to fully healthy people. They state that disabled people are not burdens of society; rather, they are capable of having fun and enjoying life, perhaps more so than able-bodied people. Because the only person that fully understands them is themselves, it should not be up to other people to determine the quality of a life and should not be judged before adequate support is given. We tend to forget that the disabled have equal rights and opportunities to live their life. In addition, some argue that euthanasia goes against the will of God, and it would therefore be wrong to take such action against a person’s life. They assert that even though suffering should be relieved, it should not be done

with the consequence of eliminating a person to non-being. Even more common and life-threatening is the possible abuse of euthanasia. This brings into question the values of happiness as opposed to pain. It is impossible to quantitatively measure these two values, because one person’s happiness may be another person’s pain. Doctors may see fit to involuntarily euthanize an individual close to death in order to make room for a person who has a chance of survival. From a utilitarian perspective, these doctors have produced the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people, being the suffering patient that was euthanized and the patient with the chance of survival. According to opponents of euthanasia, this creates an inhumane society based on individuals acting for the greater good, even at the cost of moral rights. Due to these objections, there are laws and legislation in most countries and states that deem euthanasia as illegal. The latest, from 2009, is the Assisted Dying Bill: Clarification. It asserts that the decision for consequences would be the magnitude of the person’s illness. Therefore, it is unlikely that euthanasia will be legalized soon due to its possible abuse and harms. Euthanasia grants doctors a great deal of power to act against the will of the patient. While doctors may end patients’ lives through involuntary euthanasia, they can also refuse to administer voluntary euthanasia. Some doctors interpret a patient’s agreement to euthanasia as a cry for help; therefore, rather than granting the request, they seek to improve the patient’s life. Giving doctors power over the patient entrusts them with caring for a human life. However, many people agree that there are only so many actions that doctors should be able to take. For instance, they should not make decisions that involve choosing between life and death, shortening a patient’s life, or selecting treatment options before consulting with the patient. In short, active and passive euthanasia is not for the physician to determine, rather, it is the patient who ultimately holds these rights. The implementation of euthanasia allows patients to choose between life and death, but it is prone to abuse and miscalculations. Should a person be allowed to suffer, as this is intrinsic to the way of life? Some people believe that ending one’s life would be morally impermissible and should result in consequences, no matter how much pain the patient is in. To further back this up, current legislative standings are against the legalization of euthanasia and are predicted to stay that way for a period of time. However, legislative positions change--thus no one can truly close the case of euthanasia, as the debate continues.

REFERENCES: "Utilitarianism Meaning and Definition." Dictionary 3.0 | Real Life Dictionary. Web; 22 Nov. 2010. <http://www.dictionary30.com/meaning/Utilitarianism>. BBC. "BBC - Ethics: Euthanasia." BBC - Homepage. Web. 10 Nov. 2010. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/euthanasia>. Bauer, Gary. "Gary Bauer on Health Care." OnTheIssues.org - Candidates on the Issues. Web. 12 Nov. 2010. <http://www.ontheissues.org/Celeb/Gary_ Bauer_Health_Care.htm>. Gormally, Luke. "Euthanasia Quotations." Euthanasia. Web. 12 Nov. 2010. <http://www.euthanasia.com/euthanasiaquotations.html>. Perry, Chan. "Euthanasia: Hospital Humanism." Answers in Genesis - Creation, Evolution, Christian Apologetics. June 1997. Web. 10 Nov. 2010. <http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v19/i3/euthanasia.asp>.

21


Turning Wood Into Bone:

A Wooden Bridge to a New Era in Orthopedic Surgery BY NOOR AL-ALUSI

GRAPHIC BY CLAIRE CHEN

The idea of replacing bone with wood is not at all new to our society. Wood has been substituting missing teeth since George Washingtonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time and amputated pirate limbs prior to that. However, only recently have researchers discovered that a certain type of wood can be synthesized into a material capable of internally replacing bone. In late 2009, Italian scientists at the Istec laboratory of bioceramics in Faenza found that rattan wood can be manipulated to create a ceramic material suitable for use in bone grafting, which has had a revolutionary impact on the field of orthopedic surgery. Bone grafts are used to speed up the repair of severe bone fractures by providing a scaffold for the patientâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new bone to grow on and eventually replace. Bone, composed of living cells called osteocytes, is constantly being broken down and rebuilt. Cells called osteoclasts break down bone by moving calcium minerals out of the bone and into the blood, while osteoblasts build up bone by doing the opposite. Because bone has such a dynamic self-repair system, the body can easily mend minor bone injuries. However, when more serious bone injuries occur and large portions of bone are missing, a bone scaffold is usually necessary to speed up this self-repairing cycle. Until the development of a synthetic substitute for bone grafts, real bone was used as the primary material for scaffolds. This could either be autograft bone, bone from the patientâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own body, or allograft bone, bone donated from another (usually dead) person. However, both autograft and allograft bone grafting procedures yield surgical risks. An autograft procedure requires that bone is extracted from the already injured patient. This method can result in infection, bleeding, nerve damage, and bone fracture. It also causes causes chronic pain at the autograft site in up to a quarter of cases. Allograft procedures eliminates this need for extra surgery on the patient, but poses its own risks. There is a 1 in 200,000 chance that allograft bone will transmit diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis from the donor to the patient. Also, quality allograft materials are not always available on demand, and the amount of autograft material patients can use is limited because their bodies can only sacrifice so much of their own bone. Because of the limited supply of materials necessary for allograft and autograft procedures as well as the health risks they impose, wood-derived material suitable for bone grafting is an extremely valuable finding. Researchers found that after a series of chemical processes, wood could function almost as effectively as natural bone as a bone regeneration scaffold. The scientists began with native rattan wood, which is a vinelike plant often used for making furniture and baskets. They cut 5-10mm cross-sections of the stem, dried them at 105C, and infiltrated them with hydroxyapatite-sol (a specific chemical

mixture that includes liquid and some solid elements). The samples were then dried at a lower temperature (80C), causing the hydroxyapatite-sol to become a gel. Next, the specimens were placed under intense heat (800C) in a nitrogen atmosphere and the living polymers in the wood, such as cellulose and lignin, transformed into a porous carbon residue covered with the hydroxyapatite-gel. The infiltration step was then repeated a number of times to increase the hydroxyapatite content. The final product was created by putting the specimens in 1,300C in air to remove the carbon template by oxidation and to transform the sol-gel into a crystalline hydroxyapatite ceramic. The physical properties of this final product are extraordinarily similar to that of natural bone. The ultimate wood-derived bone substitute has a porosity and pore size that is almost identical to that of real bone. This characteristic allows implant-to-bone bonding to occur at a much faster rate than it would with metal or ceramic implants. Moreover, hydroxyapatite ceramics also work better than other synthetic bone substitutes because of their compressive strength. Since they are strong, but still slightly flexible, they are more representative of real bone strength. This characteristic is important because implants apply too much stress to surrounding areas when they are stronger than the bones they are attached to, and often cause the bones to snap. Although the development of this wood-derived bone substitute as a medical treatment is still in its early stages, it shows much promise in the future of bone replacement. It proved to be successful when tested in sheep, as there were no apparent signs of infection or rejection. This new technology will take about five years before it can be applied to humans, but will likely become a very practical option for bone implants. A block of bone-like material for an implant takes only about one week and $850 to produce, so it is also relatively quick and inexpensive compared to other bone replacement materials. In a few years, hydroxyapatite ceramics will be the most cheap, natural, and effective replacement for bones. It looks like peg-legged pirates had the right idea after all - maybe wood really is the best substitute for missing bone. REFERENCES: Bland, Eric. "New Artificial Bone Made of Wood : Discovery News." Discovery News: Earth, Space, Tech, Animals, Dinosaurs, History. 10 Aug. 2009. Web. 19 Jan. 2011. <http://news.discovery.com/tech/artificial-bone-made-wood. html>. Campbell, Neil A., and Jane B. Reece. Biology. San Francisco: Pearson, Benjamin Cummings, 2005. Print. Eichenseer, Christiane. "Biomorphous Porous Hydroxyapatite-ceramics from Rattan (Calamus Rotang)." J Mater Sci: Mater Med 21 (2009): 13137. PubMed. Web. 1 May 2010. <http://www.springerlink.com/content/ x58201552p332r13/fulltext.pdf>.

22


Melatonin—

New Fountain Fountain ofof Youth? Youth? aa New

BY SARA SHU As the baby boomer generation reaches the “senior” status, more and more money is being spent on cosmetics, antiaging ointments, wrinkling creams, and even cosmetic surgery. The collective quest to find the solution to prolonging the aging process lingers in the minds of hundreds of thousands and is also, in addition to boosting the economy and satisfying the desires of retailers, spurring numerous studies to find cures for aging. Recently, research has been conducted on the effects of melatonin on aging, providing a potential solution to all future aging citizens—a solution that might forestall (at least for a little while) the traumatic symptoms of aging. All creatures have an internal timekeeper, or biological clock, that helps to maintain their circadian rhythm—a natural 24hour cycle. The biological clock is responsible for regulating hormone release, hunger, and sensitivity to external stimuli, and typically depends on external cues such as light. In mammals, the biological clock is located in the brain in a pair of hypothalamic structures called the suprachiasmatic nuclei, or SCN for short. For proper functioning of our circadian rhythm, sleep and wake patterns, and metabolism rates, we depend on melatonin, a hormone synthesized and secreted by the pineal gland in the brain that regulates functions related to light and seasons. It is secreted at night, with the amount depending on the particular length of the night and targets the SCN, where it decreases neuron activity. Melatonin also serves beneficial roles as an antioxidant and antidepressant, and aids in repairing sleep problems. In a study led by Elodie Magnanou at the Laboratoire Arago in France, the effect of melatonin on the Greater Whitetoothed shrew was examined. This small, insectivorous animal was chosen by researchers for its short life-span, high metabolism

and pronounced biorhythmicity. Male and female shrews underwent a sixty-day acclimation period before beginning the experiment, in which they were introduced to a 12:12 light:dark cycle. Then, shortly before they were twelve months of age, the shrews were were randomly assigned to treatment groups: one group was administered melatonin via a subcutaneous implant, and the other group did not receive the melatonin implant. Melatonin implants were given twice every five months and data was subsequently recorded for thirty months. Melatonin measurements taken throughout the thirty months measured pineal gland and plasma melatonin concentrations, as well as melatonin release induced by the implant. Rhythmic behavior or locomotor activity rhythm was measured by the number of times the shrews exited the nests per hour. Results showed that nighttime melatonin concentrations decreased significantly with age, whereas daytime levels were not affected and remained low lifelong. Normally, aging in shrews begins after reaching twelve months of age and is manifested by a decrease in rhythmic activity. However, shrews with the subcutaneous melatonin implant experienced a dramatic rise in plasma melatonin levels, slowing down the age-induced loss of rhythmic behavior. The signs of aging were delayed as much as three months--a significant length, considering that the lifespan of GRAPHIC BY CASSIE SUN the shrew is only thirty months. Apparently, the constant delivery of melatonin through the implant before signs of aging appeared compensated for the lack of production of melatonin when aging began and therefore maintained the shrews’ existing activity rhythm. However, it was also found that once the activity rhythm had been disrupted, no amount of melatonin could reverse the effects. As the first long-term study of melatonin delivery, this study provides results that will have a lasting impact on the way melatonin is viewed and put into use. The stalling of age-induced loss of rhythmic behavior may relieve the aging population of an ever-present burden.

REFERENCES: MAGNANOU, ELODIE, ET AL. “THE TIMING OF THE SHREW: CONTINUOUS MELATONIN TREATMENT MAINTAINS YOUTHFUL RHYTHMIC ACTIVITY IN AGING CROCIDURA RUSSULA”. PLOS ONE 4(6): E5904. DOI: 10.1371/JOURNAL.PONE.0005904. WEB. 10 JANUARY 2010. MELATONIN: THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH? SCIENCEDAILY. 23 JUNE 2009. WEB. 10 JANUARY 2010.

23


GREEN TECHNOLOGY

BY EDEN ROMM AND AVINASH CHAUDHARY GRAPHIC BY MICHELLE OBERMAN

To ensure that future generations have the same quality of life we enjoy today and to prevent a catastrophic global disaster, we must cut back on harmful gas emissions. Most people think this means they have to give up their quality of life and are therefore reluctant to make changes for the better. To the contrary, however, innovations in the fields of auto manufacturing, energy sources, and home décor, accompanied by government programs, have made environmental well-being achievable in the near future. Although it may seem that fuel-efficient vehicles are a recent trend, they have been around since 1899. The first hybrid car was developed by Ferdinand Porsche, an engineer at Jacob Lohner &CO, who would later create Porsche Auto Company. Porsche’s innovative idea of a hybrid automobile developed into the company’s modern project, the 918 Spyder. This is by no means a consumer car, with a price tag of over $600,000. Although this price may seem daunting, its impressive 93 mpg, a head-jerking acceleration of 0-60 in 3.2 seconds, and a combined 718 horsepower, coming from a combination of its electric and gasoline engines, makes this hybrid comparable to purely gasoline powered supercars with a similar cost. For those people who don’t have $600,000 to spend on a car, but still want a high-performance vehicle that doesn’t hurt the environment, the Silicon Valley-based electric car company, Tesla, is the next best choice. Starting around $100,000, it is still slightly pricy, but makes up for it with a fully electric motor and blistering acceleration of 0-60 in 3.7 seconds, only .5 seconds slower than the 918. Although faster alternatives are available, most people will go for the consumer-friendly Toyota Prius. The Toyota Prius offers a hybrid engine that receives around 50 mpg and is, in both cost and capability, an everyday car. The Prius is revolutionary because it is a mass-produced and widely-advertized hybrid vehicle. Overall, the Prius is the most popular choice because, unlike the other two, it has 5 seats and can be driven around town for everyday use. The Prius’ high sales have motivated other car makers to invest in this new form of vehicle. Other car companies have eagerly tried to cut into this consumer base by introducing the all-electric Nissan Leaf and the 45 mpg Ford Fusion. Although investing in fuel-efficient vehicles can reduce an individual’s carbon footprint, other projects create environmental improvement on a larger scale. For example, hydroelectric plants are a green solution to society’s mounting energy demands, and are already established in some areas. For example, the entire city of Las Vegas, including the famous strip, is supported from power provided by a hydroelectric power plant at the Hoover dam. The rapidly flowing water spins a turbine to power a generator. The resulting AC current is transformed in high voltage current by transformers, and then carried out through power lines to places like Las Vegas. In addition to hydroelectric power, cities can also harness the wind to generate power. In a windmill, wind pushes the turbines, powering the interior generator, and thus producing electricity. Unlike hydroelectric plants, which require a water source, windmills can be built anywhere. Turning food crops into biofuels is another revolutionary idea that can be used to diminish our dependence on both U.S. and foreign petroleum. All sorts of crops including sugarcane, corn, and wheat can be turned into biofuel. The most popular of these is corn because of its abundance. Scientists have figured out ways to turn corn into fuels that can power cars or trains. The transition from petroleum to renewable sources like corn will not only reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but also create clean energy jobs for many people around the world. Solar panels are becoming increasingly popular in homes, businesses, and even schools around the country. Solar panels are made up of sections called photovoltaic cells, which absorb light and transfer it to the semiconductor (silicon), which then converts the light into electricity. The silicon converts light into energy by using the light to speed up the electrons until they flow freely through the semiconductor. Photovoltaic cells can be arranged together to fit almost any surface, such as roofs, calculators, or the ground. Because of solar panels’ ability to fit such a versatile range of surfaces, as well as the appeal of government tax rebates, solar power has become increasingly popular in recent years. Another technique homeowners use in order to reduce their environmental impact is installing energy-efficient appliances. Not only do these appliances reduce the impact on the environment, but they also help reduce the amount of money spent on water and electricity bills. A predominant company in making these environmentally friendly appliances is Energy Star. Energy Star makes many different kinds of appliances, from freezers to washing machines, all of which serve a common purpose: to reduce energy consumption, pollution, and to fulfill their household jobs. Water-efficient gardening has become an increasingly popular practice, especially in dry California. This is done through the use of desert plants and fake grass. Much of southern California is a desert climate, making desert plants perfect for its environment. Desert plants naturally conserve water because they are adapted to survive hot, dry environments. They are increasing in popularity because they not only conserve water, but also save money by reducing water bills. Meanwhile, types of synthetic grass such as AstroTurf are also helpful to the environment because they require no water at all.They help prevent drought by conserving water, all the while maintaining the appearance of a luscious green lawn. Furthermore, artificial turf relieves people of having to painstakingly take care of their lawns. The combination of these three benefits makes synthetic turf an appealing choice. To ensure the survival of future human generations, our generation must take steps to ensure the well-being of the environment. We can help to accomplish this goal through the use of fuel efficient automobiles, energy-efficient appliances and home decor, and alternative methods of energy production. By taking these environment-friendly measures, we will not only help ourselves, but also our children and the planet. After all, this planet is our home and we should keep it green. REFERENCES: “The 1899 Lohner Porsche, the First Hybrid Vehicle?” Hybrid Vehicle - Hybrid Cars and Trucks, Fuel Cell, Clean Fuel’s. Web. 27 Jan. 2011. <http://www.hybridvehicle.org/hybrid-vehicle-porsche.html>. “Funding Opportunities | Green Building |US EPA.” US Environmental Protection Agency. Web. 27 Jan. 2011. <http://www.epa.gov/greenbuilding/tools/funding. htm>. Home : ENERGY STAR. Web. 27 Jan. 2011. <http://www.energystar.gov/>. “How to Prepare Your Own Water Efficient Garden - Xeriscaping.” Welcome to Pioneer Thinking. Web. 27 Jan. 2011. <http://www.pioneerthinking.com/watereffgar.html>. “Porsche AG - Press Releases - About Porsche - Dr. Ing. H.c. F. Porsche AG.” Official Porsche Website - Dr. Ing. H.c. F. Porsche AG. Web. 27 Jan. 2011. 24 <http://www.porsche.com/usa/aboutporsche/pressreleases/pag/?pool=international-de&id=2010-03-02>. SYNLawn Synthetic Grass | Artificial Grass Never Looked More Natural. Web. 27 Jan. 2011. <http://www.synlawn.com/>. Tesla Motors | Premium Electric Vehicles. 14 Oct. 2010. Web. 27 Jan. 2011. <http://www.teslamotors.com/>. “Toyota Prius.” Toyota Cars, Trucks, SUVs & Accessories. Web. 27 Jan. 2011. <http://www.toyota.com/sem/prius.html?srchid=K610_p312826621>.


The Final Clash Between Man and Pathogen,

Who Will Win

?

BY ETHAN SONG The heated battle between disease and man has come to its ultimate showdown in the 21st century. Throughout the years, humans have overcome lethal diseases through the development of antibiotics and vaccines, but pathogens have evolved at equal pace to become even more potent and deadly. Such disease-causing agents are now more resistant to even the most effective treatments, and it seems that humans have finally lost their long fought war. However, current molecular biology research suggests that there might be one last defense: gene expression from nuclear hormone receptors, the single most powerful mechanism of the human body. Molecular biology, a fairly new branch of science, focuses primarily on the production of certain proteins from transcription and gene expression. Gene expression is the process in which genetic information from DNA is translated into gene products, which are primarily proteins that later affect activities in the human body. Nuclear hormone receptors play large roles in gene expression due to their ability to directly act with DNA. Hormones such as thyroid and steroid hormones are lipid-soluble and can diffuse through cellular and nuclear membranes, after which they can bind with hormone receptors. The hormone-receptor complexes then translocate and bind to DNA, where transcription of genes can occur. When the nuclear receptors bind with DNA at a certain location, RNA polymerase reads the DNA and produces mRNA, an antiparallel strand, almost like a mirror image, of that segment of DNA. The mRNA produced then serves as a template for translation at ribosomes. The end gene products can be used in functions such as influencing the development of sexual features and maintaining a regulated body. Current research concludes that nuclear hormone receptors FXR (Farnesoid X Receptor) and PXR (Pregnane X Receptor) are accountable for forming proteins that are involved in maintaining homeostasis. The FXR nuclear receptor is primarily responsible for the suppression of a cholesterol converting enzyme, CYP3A4, whose function is to convert cholesterol into bile acid. The primary function of the PXR nuclear receptor is to sense the presence of toxic substances and then regulate the production of proteins that detoxify the substances and remove them from the body. Nuclear receptors such as FXR and PXR are essential in maintaining a healthy and balanced body. Such unique functions of nuclear receptors have allowed scientists to employ them in the field of medicine as well. In January of 2007, it was discovered that the Androgen receptor by the N-terminal domain (NTD) decoy molecules blocked the growth of prostate cancer. The idea behind the discovery was that overexpressing an Androgen receptor peptide would inhibit the growth of tumors. This discovery presents a new possibility in the field of medicine and cancer treatment. Currently many cancer patients go through chemotherapy and intensive radiation treatments, but nuclear hormone receptors provide a nonhazardous method of treating cancer patients. This new method substantially reduces the damage done to the human body and provides an effective way to treat life threatening diseases. Additionally, in March of 2008, a head scientist at the Salk Institute of Biological Studies, Ron Evans (M.D. PhD), discovered a potential drug target for the treatment of atherosclerosis through investigating nuclear hormone receptors. A nuclear receptor protein responsible for controlling the ability of cells to burn fat was found to suppress atherosclerosis and the development of plaque in the arteries. The discovery of nuclear hormone receptors and their possible applications have opened up possibilities in the form of medication as well as initiative to prevent these health problems. Other recent discoveries on nuclear hormone receptors have shown that these receptors are important contenders in therapeutic treat-

ment and foundations for new kinds of medicine. As recent research has brought science to uncharted territories, a new type of medical treatment is currently in development - one that does not employ antibiotics or vaccines, but rather a self-regulated cure within the body. With increasing knowledge and a greater understanding of the body and its functions, humans are able to develop more effective types of medication. Perhaps, in the clash between humanity and pathogens, humans may be able to win after all.

REFERENCES Bettelheim, Frederick A.et al. Introduction to General, Organic, and Biochemistry. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning, 2010. Print. Buehler, Lukas K., and Hooman H. Rashidi. Bioinformatics Basics: Applications in Biological Science and Medicine. Boca Raton: Taylor & Francis, 2005. Print. Campbell, Neil A., and Jane B. Reece. Biology AP Edition. San Francisco: Pearson, Benjamin Cummings, 2005. Print. Ebbing, Darrell D., and Steven D. Gammon. General Chemistry Eighth Edition. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. Print. Iuchi, Shiro, and Natalie Kuldell. Zinc Finger Proteins: from Atomic Contact to Cellular Function. Georgetown, Tex.: Landes Bioscience, 2005. Print. Kalaany, NY et al. “LXRS and FXR: the Yin and Yang of Cholesterol and ... [Annu Rev Physiol. 2006] - PubMed Result.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. Web. 25 December 2009. Kirchweger, Gina. “Press Releases - New Potential Drug Target for the Treatment of Atherosclerosis.” Salk Institute. Web. 22 Dec. 2009. <http://www.salk.edu/news/pressrelease_details.php?press_id=205>. Kruse, Schoen W et al. “Identification of COUP-TFII Orphan Nuclear Receptor as a Retinoic Acid–Activated Receptor.” PLoS Biology : Publishing Science, Accelerating Research. 2008. Web. 06 Mar. 2010. http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.0060227 Guri, AJ et al. “Loss of PPAR Gamma in Immune Cells Impairs the Abi... [J Nutr Biochem. 2008] - PubMed Result.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. Web. 23 Jan. 2010. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17618105>. Lehninger, Albert L., David L. Nelson, and Michael M. Cox. Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry. New York: W.H. Freeman, 2005. Print. Petsko, Gregory A., and Dagmar Ringe. Protein Structure and Function. London: New Science, 2004. Print. Quayle, Steven N et al. “Androgen Receptor Decoy Molecules Block the Growth of Prostate Cancer.”National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2007. Web.08 Mar 2010. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1783142/>.

25


THE TRICK BEHIND

TRICK CANDLES

BY RACHAEL LEE

GRAP

HIC B

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NDY

ZHAN

G

The guest of honor grins at the flickering candles upon the birthday cake, internally makes a wish, and extinguishes the flames in one breath. For a moment, everyone is cheering, the guest of honor smiles at the trailing wisps of smoke, and the flames seem to have vanished for good. But suddenly, a flash of light reappears - before long, the ring of candles is alight once more, the flames dancing obstinately. The guest of honor, bewildered, continues to blow, and is soon out of breath from battling the seemingly inextinguishable flickers of light. Of course, birthday candles and trick candles, the stubborn twists on the classics, are both variations on one of our oldest sources of light--the candle. Now used primarily for ornamental or religious purposes, candles are made of a wick and a fuel source. The candle “fuel” that allows the wick to burn and produce light is wax, which is made of paraffin hydrocarbons, or chemicals that only have carbon-carbon and carbon-hydrogen single bonds, such as those in CH4 (methane). Paraffin hydrocarbons are fairly large, with more than 20 carbons per molecule. Paraffin wax is composed of variations of paraffin hydrocarbons, the majority of which are C25H52. If they are melted, these hydrocarbons can combine with oxygen and ignite in a process called combustion. The paraffin is the component that reignites in trick candles and thus makes multiple burnings possible. The second component of candles is the wick. The wick is made of tightly wound cotton or nylon fibers and is treated with a flame-retardant solution, such as a chemical salt solution (the details of which are kept secret by candle manufacturers), in a process called mordanting to prevent destruction of the wick by the flames. As soon as it meets heat, the wick conducts heat towards the surface of the wax to commence melting. The molten wax allows the candle to combust continuously; the wax is melted so that it can travel upward through the wick using capillary action and burn. The wick acts like a delivery system that carries the molten wax to the oxygen at the top of the candle. What makes tricks candles so special and different from plain old candles? The secret is the tiny flecks of magnesium powder in the wick. Magnesium flecks are highly reactive and flammable, causing it to burn even at temperatures as low as 430oC. This means that after the flame has been blown out, the glowing, hot ember remaining in the wick can ignite the magnesium and produce tiny sparks, which then reignite the paraffin vapors. The cotton and nylon fibers of a regular wick lack magnesium powder and thus cannot reignite so dependably and rapidly after the flame has been blown out. Trick candles repeatedly reignite because the magnesium in the lower part of the wick is protected from burning prematurely by the paraffin wax. However, regular candles actually also have the ability to reignite. Unburned wax particles in the smoke can be lit again after a candle is blown out, allowing the flame to return. This surprising property, however, also sheds light on the danger of candles. Candles can be carelessly thrown in the trash, only to reignite and set the trash on fire. Since all candles can reignite, they should be considered hazardous and doused with water after use to cut off the oxygen supply and prevent the paraffin vapors from reigniting. As entertaining as they are doggedly persistent, trick candles are also a neat and simple marvel of science. Their trick is only a result of magnesium and paraffin wax - mystery solved, no magic involved, or perhaps the chemical properties and processes that contribute to trick candle’s quirks are magical in themselves. Either way, these sneaky candles, invariably followed by cake consumption, will be sure to dazzle, confuse, entertain, and scientifically intrigue at the typical birthday celebration. REFERENCES Rohrig, Brian. “The Captivating Chemistry of Candles”. Chem Matters. December 2007. http://portal.acs.org/preview/fileFetch/C/WPCP_007150/pdf/ WPCP_007150.pdf Wang, Linda. “Trick Candles”. Chemical&Engineering News. August 2009. http://pubs.acs.org/cen/science/88/8832sci2.html

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W

rld

Our of Evidence

such as family relationships and positivity for diseases, be available for the police or government to access? This is where we must determine for ourselves the line between personal and societal interests and come to a decision that will protect both. Yet there is no doubt that DNA analysis has been integral in restoring lives by clearing the names of the innocent. In 1984, a 24 year old man named Kirk Bloodsworth was convicted of the rape and murder of a girl. He was scheduled for execution, and the many letters he wrote pleading innocence did not make a difference. Then, after almost 9 years in prison, the state of Maryland believed him. Forensic science had evolved, and his name was cleared. Bloodsworth was the first man booked for death row in United States history who was cleared by DNA evidence. Many others have also been successfully exonerated in the same manner. However, the $300,000 Bloodsworth was paid can never compensate for the time, friends, and reputation he lost. Forensic identification brings about a tough choice; we must decide between the individual rights of the people and the interests of the society. True, forensic identification is usually reliable, with the high level of technology and understanding of DNA authorities can access at their fingertips. But this all leads to one major question- are we willing to risk that tiny percentage of possible error for the benefit and protection of our communities?

GRAPHIC BY TAVIA SIN

Most people have probably seen CSI, NCIS, Law and Order, or one of the numerous other crime shows on TV networks nowadays. However, the way these shows portray the science behind case solving and criminal catching, known as forensic identification, is far more complex than shown on TV. Forensic identification is the application of a broad spectrum of sciences and technology to answer questions of interest to a legal system, and to identify specific objects from the trace evidence they leave, often at a crime scene or the scene of an accident. By learning more about the basics of forensic identification, we can judge for ourselves the rights, wrongs, pros, and cons associated with it, and its potential to influence humanity mainly in legal, but also in general society today. There are two components of forensic identification: product identification and human identification. Product identification deals with electronics, firearms, and other devices used to commit a crime. For example, copiers and printers, common elements in forgery cases, can be identified by the minor variations in banding artifacts due to the way they feed paper through the machine, and documents can be analyzed for their composition of paper and ink. Meanwhile, firearms can be identified by the striations on the bullets that were fired, and sometimes by the imprints on the bullet cartridge casings. Human identification deals with all of us. Because each individual is unique, it is not too difficult to identify someone given a database. Ways to identify a person include fingerprint analysis, facial recognition systems, forensic odontology with teeth or bite marks, voice or handwriting analysis, bodily fluids (mainly blood) analysis, hair analysis (trichology), and DNA analysis. Methods of DNA analysis include Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP) and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). During RFLP, a sample of DNA is fragmented whenever a specific sequence of nucleotides occurs. These fragments can then be separated according to length by gel electrophoresis. The pattern in which the DNA is separated varies with the individual, making RFLP a useful identification method. However, in order to perform RFLP, the analyst requires a DNA sample the size of a quarter--one of the reasons why it is being replaced by methods such as PCR testing, which is faster and requires far less DNA evidence. During PCR, up to millions of copies of DNA are generated from a single sample through a repeated heating and cooling process. However, because of the extensive replication process involved, PCR is somewhat more prone to error. One significant benefit of forensic identification is victim identification. After the September 11th tragedy, for instance, thousands of people awaited news of their loved ones who were at the site of the attacks, and DNA collected from bodies of those who were not carrying IDs enabled the government to identify individuals and communicate accordingly with their families. Another application, DNA databanking, the collection and storage of genetic information from individuals arrested for various offenses, helps law enforcement agencies save time, money, and resources in implicating suspects of crimes, because many criminals tend to be repeat offenders. However, forensic identification still poses its disadvantages and pitfalls. Innocent people present at a crime scene prior to the event can be suspected and wrongfully convicted. Countless people have called into question the ethical, legal, and social concerns of DNA profiling. Is it a dependable system of proving guilt, or a threat to civil liberties? Some have said that it is an invasion of privacy and takes away the rights of the innocent, who may be wrongly convicted, searched, or suspected. The Fourth Amendment, which protects us from violations of unreasonable search and seizure, has been cited. DNA profiling has also been scrutinized for posing an unfair bias against minorities. For instance, in the U.K., 37% of African-American men have their genetic profiles in the national DNA database (which contains over 3 million profiles), compared to 13% of Asian men and only 9% of white men. This and other similar scenarios have prompted many to complain that overrepresented races in the database experience an unfair increase in government surveillance and tendency to be implicated in crimes, as well as a decrease in personal and familial security. Should sensitive and personal information in DNA profiles,

BY HARSHITA NADIMPALLI

REFERENCES “DNA Forensics.” Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://www. ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/forensics.shtml>. “Forensic Identification.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forensic_identification#Human_identification>. Levine, Susan. “Md. Man’s Exoneration Didn’t End Nightmare (washingtonpost. com).” Editorial. The Washington Post 24 Feb. 2003, sec. A: 1. Washington Post Politics, National, World & D.C. Area News and Headlines - Washingtonpost.com. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=arti cle&node=&contentId=A55556-2003Feb23&notFound=true>. Lotter, Karen. “Forensic DNA Fingerprinting: Profiling and Crime Scene Evidence.” Suite101.com: Online Magazine and Writers’ Network. 8 Dec. 2007. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://www.suite101.com/content/forensic-dna-a37395>. Morgan, Elizabeth. “Fingerprinting in Forensic Science.” EzineArticles Submission - Submit Your Best Quality Original Articles For Massive Exposure, Ezine Publishers Get 25 Free Article Reprints. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://ezinearticles. com/?Fingerprinting-in-Forensic-Science&id=410615>. “NLADA: Defender Legal Services - Forensic Science Resources.” National Legal Aid & Defender Association. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://www.nlada.org/Defender/ forensics/for_lib/Index/Fingerprints/Fingerprint Research Articles/index_html>.

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The Quadrature of the Parabola BY ALBERT CHEN

> You’ve probably heard of Archimedes before. He’s the Greek mathematician who figured out how to test whether the king’s crown was pure gold, and then ran through the streets naked declaring his victory. He also found a formula for the area of a sphere, approximated pi, and aspired to move the Earth with a lever. Archimedes also worked with series. In math, a series is the sum of a sequence; essentially a list of numbers. His achievements in this area turned out to be just as exciting as his other pursuits, albeit with less spectacle.

> Archimedes of Syracuse (287-212 BC) was incredibly talented and intrigued by math. He decided to manipulate parabolas, specifically to find the area of the section bounded by a parabola and an intersecting line. Since he lived in the BC days, he did not have any of the tools of modern mathematicians; in fact, calculus had yet to be invented, and even finding the volume of a sphere posed a challenge. But, as an impressive geometer, he had the creativity to find a solution, pioneering his so-called “method of exhaustion” even before the concept of infinite series reached man. By using the method of exhaustion, the area of a shape can be found by inscribing within it a series of polygons whose combined areas equal that of the original shape. Here’s how it works:

> Draw a triangle with two vertices at the intersection of the parabola and the line, and then put the third vertex on the parabola, so that the tangent line to the parabola through the third point in parallel to the line through the first two points (See Fig. 1).

> Now, we have a parabola and a triangle, but we can view this as two parabolas each cut off by a line segment (the sides of the triangle) as shown in Fig. 2.

> By repeating these two steps, Archimedes proceeded to “fill up” the remaining space between the line and the sides of the parabola with smaller and smaller triangles, until it was completely filled (Fig. 3). > Perhaps you can see where we’re going. If the areas of each triangle can be found, they can be summed up to find the total area between the parabola and the line. Here’s where Archimedes’ skill as a geometer came in. Because the triangles were all constructed in the same, special way, Archimedes proved that the area of each triangle is equal to 1/8 the triangle whose side it was constructed off of. So if the first triangle has area X, the two subsequent triangles each have area X/8, the four following ones area X/(8^2), and so on. The sum of all these is X + 2(X/8) + 4(X/8^2) + 8(X/8^3) + …. See the pattern? This simplifies to X + X/4 + X/16 + …, or

> Nowadays, we would solve this problem with calculus. Calculus deals with the infinitesimal, and is powerful enough to find the area without any arcane geometry knowledge. The general strategy is to find the area between the parabola and the x-axis and the area between the line and x-axis, then subtract the two. This leaves the area between the parabola and the line. In calculus, the desired area is divided into little chunks, whose areas are then added together, all in one step. As you can see, this is not unlike Archimedes’ approach, but calculus is much more powerful because it can apply to nearly any two curves that intersect. In fact, quartic (polynomials of the fourth degree) and trigonometric equations pose no problem at all. So, when you feel stumped by a math problem, or the calculation is too complicated, think of Archimedes. Perhaps the basic techniques are enough to solve a complex problem. Be creative, and go for the unseen solution.

GRAPHICS BY VARUN GUDI AND CALVIN LEE REFERENCES “Archimedes of Syracuse: Quadrature of the Parabola.” The Works of Archimedes. Ed. Daniel E. Otero. Dover, 1953. 233+. Xavier University Computer Science. 9 June 2002. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://www.cs.xu.edu/math/math147/02f/archimedes/archpartext.html>. “Archimedes.” Science Division - Bellevue College. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://scidiv.bellevuecollege.edu/math/archimedes.html>. Erbas, A. K. “An Explanatory Approach to Archimedes’s Quadrature of the Parabola.” University of Georgia. 21 Feb. 2000. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://jwilson.coe. uga.edu/emt668/EMAT6680.F99/Erbas/emat6690/essay1/essay1.html>.

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behind the veil:

THE TRUTH ABOUT

FATIGUE BY MARGARET GUO

A pounding heart. A labored breath. A burning muscle. The symptoms go on and on.

Humans. As a species, we dream of virtual invincibility, the ability to venture forth without physical and mental limits. Yet the human being is not perfect. Though we have striven long and hard to break all boundaries and surpass all obstacles, there remains one limit that constantly haunts the human psyche: fatigue. For years, scientists have believed that the primary culprit behind this hindering block is a small molecule known as lactic acid. First discovered in 1789 by Carl Whilhelm Sheele, lactic acid has long been known to play a role in metabolic functions of the cell. In 1922, Otto Meyerhoff and his fellow colleagues outlined the basic process by which carbohydrates are converted into cellular energy. In his work, Meyerhoff noted that lactic acid was a direct byproduct of the initial splitting of glucose in the absence of oxygen. He also linked an increase in lactic acid concentrations to the onset of acidosis, the burning sensation that is a main contributor to fatigue. Meyerhoff observed that muscles work when lactic acid levels are high, and concluded that under anaerobic conditions, lactic acid directly causes fatigue. For the next several decades, this belief solidified into fact. Lactic acid, the natural product of anaerobic metabolism, unceasingly undermined physical activity. The implications were foreboding: the attempt to surpass physical limits was inhibited by the body’s own inability to supply continual energy. As understood today, cellular metabolism, or the process of converting ADP to usable ATP energy, occurs in three levels. Two of those three levels are anaerobic. All three processes have the same motive: to generate enough energy for transferring one phosphate group to nucleic acid ADP to complete the formation of ATP, which is then used for various other tasks within the cell. ATP in the cell is limited, so once this scant supply runs out, the cell resorts to Plan A: freeing phosphates through a molecule known as creatine phosphate. Once there is no more phosphate available to enter the system, the cell turns to Plan B: utilizing sugars to recycle free phosphates. In the process known as glycolysis, the sugar molecule glucose is broken down into pyruvate which either enters the aerobic cellular respiration cycle or is converted into the infamous lactic acid. The accumulation of lactic acid occurs far more quickly than most realize. In the few seconds needed to complete a 100-meter dash, the body already exhausts existing sources of ATP and creatine phosphates. The aerobic processes have not yet begun to churn out ATP, so this form of lactic acid fermentation is the primary source of fuel. It is also within this time that the body begins to experience the effect of tiring muscles. Thus, the onset of exhaustion directly corresponds to the production of lactic acid. Yet recently, lactic acid has been proven not to be a waste product, but a form of fuel that increases physical capacity of a trained individual. Though breakdown of muscle function was almost always accompanied by an increase in blood lactate—an ionic product formed when lactic acid is broken down into hydrogen and lactate ions, the latter of which is immediately joined to an alkali metal ion—blood lactate levels decrease within an hour of intense physical activity while major symptoms of fatigue, such as muscle soreness and tightness, can appear days later. Thus, the true culprit of human fatigue seemed to be hidden beneath processes connected to lactic acid, escaping close scrutiny at the cost of social ignorance. In 1984, George Brooks proposed a radical theory that lactic

GRAPHICS BY LUCY AHN

acid was in fact beneficial to human metabolism. The lactic acid fermentation process that seemed so lethal to muscle function within an ordinary cell could be reversed. According to Brooks’ theory, the lactate ions are shuttled from cell to cell until it reaches the liver. Within the liver, the Cori cycle converts lactate back into pyruvate in the presence of oxygen. Lactic acid even seemed to retard the start of acidosis in laboratory experiments with rats. Such a positive view of lactic acid was relatively unheard of at the time and was subject to great debate. Nevertheless, scientists today have acknowledged that lactic acid did not deserve the ill reputation it had been carrying for so long. So what really causes the set of symptoms collectively known as fatigue? Modern researchers believe that the actual perpetrators are the hydrogen ions released from a number of sources. Some come from the dissociation of lactic acid into hydrogen and lactate ions, yet most of these pHdecreasing agents result from the series of reactions that convert glucose into pyruvate. In those cases, lactate serves as a proton or hydrogen ion acceptor, buffering the system against the negative effects a decrease in pH might have on muscle structure and other cellular processes, including the all-important cellular respiration. Thus, this once derided molecule may actually be a vital constituent to the human body. This reversal in scientific thought has had profound consequences. Sports companies now advertise products containing sodium lactate to boost performance and enhance post-workout recovery. Lactate has even been found to stimulate hormone production that increases growth while lowering the chance of obesity. Lactate has high potential for perfecting sport medicine and coping with metabolic diseases plaguing the nation. The possible benefits provided by lactic acid extend far off into the horizon.

This is only the beginning. REFERENCES Kolata, Gina. “Lactic Acid Is Not Muscles’ Foe, It’s Fuel.” The New York Times, 16 May 2006. Web. 7 Nov. 2010. <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/16/health/nutrition/16run. html?_r=1>. Kraviz, Len. “Lactate.” The University of New Mexico. 2005. Web. 13 Nov. 2010. <http:// www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article folder/lactate.html>. “Lactic Acid & Blood Lactate.” Phil Davies’ Sports Fitness Advisor - Get Fit for Sport & Life. Web. 13 Nov. 2010. <http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/lactic-acid.html>. “Lactic Acid Not Athlete’s Poison, But An Energy Source -- If You Know How To Use It.” Science Daily: News & Articles in Science, Health, Environment & Technology. 21 Apr. 2006. Web. 7 Nov. 2010. <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060420235214.htm>. “Muscle Energetics.” National Space Biomedical Research Institute. Web. 13 Nov. 2010. <http://www.nsbri.org/HumanPhysSpace/focus5/ep-energetics.html>. Quinn, Elizabeth. “Energy Pathways for Exercise - Aerobic and Anaerobic Metabolism.” Sports Medicine, Sports Performance, Sports Injury - Information About Sports Injuries and Workouts for Athletes. 20 Feb. 2008. Web. 7 Nov. 2010. <http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/ nutrition/a/aa080803a.htm>. Saks, V. A. “Glycolysis as a Network of Phosphotransfer Circuits and Metabolite Shuttles.” Molecular System Bioenergetics: Energy for Life. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH, 2007. 282-84. Print. Teta, Jade, and Keoni Teta. “New Perspectives on Lactate and Lactic Acid - Page 2 | Townsend Letter.” Find Articles at BNET | News Articles, Magazine Back Issues & Reference Articles on All Topics. July 2010. Web. 15 Nov. 2010. <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/ mi_7396/is_324/ai_n55148103/pg_2/?tag=content;col1>.

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N|OT T|HERE Kasrin pulled the hard-copy off the shelf, wiped the dust off, and sneezed. Sander floated up behind her. [Why are you doing that?] “Real-noise,” she hissed angrily. Sander obligingly switched to real-noise, but she knew he was exasperated by her stubbornness. “Why are you looking at the hard copy?” “I don’t want to use sim-hear to read it.” “That’s stupid.” Sander drifted back to the table where they’d been sitting. The library was deserted. It was a little known, dark and oldlooking hovel hidden in the very back alleyways of the city. “How’d you find this place anyhow?” Kasrin didn’t want to tell him about the long hours she’d spent— hours made longer than they had to be because of her unwillingness to use sim-hear—tracking down old traces and half-forgotten memories and stories of this place. It was the last outpost where sim-hear had not yet penetrated. Kasrin also didn’t want to tell Sander that part of the reason she was looking at a hard-copy was because this library didn’t have sim-hear copies. These days, any place without sim-hear was illegal. “When are you going back to the vitfit?” she asked Sander instead of answering, still wiping ineffectively at the cover of the hard copy. Sander shrugged. “In a week.” His eyes clouded over and he hesitated and amended his statment. “Or maybe just in two days.” Kasrin’s fingers brushed away the last of the dust and she saw the dull faded lines of the title peering up at her. She grinned in triumph, but Sander didn’t see. “Make it two days,” she said. [Both of us?] Kasrin gritted her teeth. “Stop the sim-hear,” she said viciously. Hugging the hard-copy close to her, she crept out of the tiny hovel and waited for Sander impatiently. They started dragging their tired feet homewards. Sander tried to talk to Kasrin, but she didn’t answer, wrapped up as she was in looking at the hard copy. The only thing she would say to Sander was, “No sim-hear.” Two days later, Kasrin was back at the vitfit center with Sander. She was carrying an innocuous looking bag with a five-pointed star cheerfully emblazoned on it, an accessory not unusual for a girl her age. Inside was the hard-copy she’d taken from the library. Kasrin’s hand trembled protectively over the bag. She told herself to act natural so no one would suspect anything, but a guilty excitement kept washing over her. Her nerves were strung with anticipation. [Sander.] She caught herself. “Sander.” [What?] “Real-noise,” she told him vaguely, thinking again about the hardcopy in her bag. “I just thought I should let you know that something might happen today.” Sander narrowed his eyes. “You’re waiting till now to tell me? Until just before we go into the vitfit?” He let out an exasperated breath. “What’s going to happen?” Kasrin started to say she wasn’t exactly sure, then stopped. “I’m not going to tell you.” “This has something to do with that trip to the weird little library, doesn’t it?” Sander said shrewdly. Kasrin’s hand twitched. She forced herself not to pat her bag again.

THE SECOND OF A THREE PART INSTALLATION OF ANGELA QIAN’S ORIGINAL SCIENCE FICTION STORY.

“Maybe,” she said, trying to sound casual. “Kasrin, seriously. Don’t mess with the vitfit. Something’s happening to our minds while we’re in there. You want to screw that up?” Kasrin shook her head. “No, Sander. Nothing’s going to be screwed up.” “And how do you know?” Sander challenged. I found a hard-copy, Kasrin wanted to say. It’s a history book. Something that’s been banned for centuries. But I found it. And it’s changing my life. “If you know the vitfit is messing with our heads,” she said calmly, “why do you still go in?” “Because it’s not bad messing with our heads. It’s just something people do. Alcohol messed people up a little bit, but we still drink it.” Kasrin nodded thoughtfully. “Sander…the vitfit and alcohol… think of it more like, vitfit and street drugs.” “What are you saying?” Sander hissed. Kasrin’s hand shifted involuntarily toward her star-printed bag. She forced it still and suddenly felt very calm. “I’ll tell you one thing. It’s a good thing you’ve been in real-noise. Because people can hear what we say.” “Except in sim-hear.” “No, in sim-hear people can hear us. But not in real-noise.” “That makes no sense.” Kasrin knew it didn’t make sense—but that was just the way it worked. She knew from the hard-copy. Sander opened his mouth to say more, then glared at her and switched to sim-hear. [Kasrin, you’re being a complete idiot about this.] “Real-noise,” she hissed at him. The monitor came up to them and broke in before she could continue. [Are you two ready for the vitfit?] she asked smoothly. [Would you like to go in together?] That brought Kasrin up short. “You can do that?” The monitor smiled indulgently. [Are you a newbie? Just came of age?] Kasrin looked at her with dislike. Sander had subsided into an indignant silence. The monitor gave a little tinkling laugh. [Going into a vitfit together is a very close experience.] The monitor appraised Kasrin and Sander. [I assume you two are…] Sander snorted. [No—] Kasrin broke in. “Wait,” she said, then switched to sim-hear. [We’ll go in together.] Sander gave her a bewildered look. Kasrin ignored him, and ignored the fact the fingers of her left hand were twitching excitedly over the star on the bag, feeling the heavy weight inside. This spur-of-the-moment decision made Kasrin apprehensive, but before she could think it through, the monitor was leading them into a room with a vitfit pod, larger than Kasrin’s first. Sander opened the door and climbed in, curling himself up. Kasrin noticed the small space next to him, presumably for another person, but there was no real barrier separating the two of them. She climbed in and curled up next to Sander, pressing the bag to her chest. His wrist was turned to her, pressed against her own. She could feel his heartbeat on one side, and her knees pressed against the hard-copy. She took a deep breath. The monitor smiled at them and closed the pod door, and then Kasrin was floating in the blackness of no sound with Sander.

30


STAFF President Alice Fang

Editor-in-Chief Ling Jing Assistant Editor-in-Chief Rebecca Su Angela Zou Design Editor Jennifer Cheng Graphic Editor Michelle Oberman Claire Chen Assistant Graphics Editor Wendy Zhang Senior Editor Albert Chen Murong He Praneet Mylavarapu Siddhartho Bhattacharya Chemistry Editor Michelle Sit Justin Song Sarah Hsu Biology Editor Florine Pascal Sarah Watanaskul Becky Kuan Physics Editor Lauren Sweet Sharad Vikram Administrative Editor-in-Chief Noor Al-Alusi

Leadership Team Michelle Kao Siddhartho Bhattacharya Melodyanne Cheng Parul Pubbi Praneet Mylavarapu Albert Chen Sharon Peng Sumana Mahata

Secretary Maarya Abbasi Yuri Bae (attendance and staff) Sara Shu (articles) Tavia Sin (graphics) Assistant Webmaster Tiffany Sin Staff Authors

Adrianna Borys, Albert Chen, Alice Fang, Angela Qian, Angela Zou, Apoorva Mylavarapu, Arnold So, Avinash Chaudhory, Ayesha Kapil, Bethel Hagos, Bhavani Bindiganavile, Brent Parker, Cassie Sun, Choohyun (Kristine) Paik, Daniel Liu, David Chang, Eden Romm, Elora Lopez Emma Dyson, Erin Kim, Ethan Song, Eva Lilienfeld, Florine Pascal, Frank Pan, Hana Vogel, Harshita Nadimpalli, Howon Lee, Hyeimin Ahn, Justin Song, Jourdan Johnson, Kiernan Panish, Kira Watkins, Kyle Jablon, Lauren Sweet, Ling Jing, Lucy Ahn, Maarya Abbasi, Margaret Guo, Maria Ginzburg, Mariam Kimeridze, Marina Youngblood, Mary Ho, Melodyanne Cheng, Merle Jeromin, Michelle Kao, Michelle Oberman, Michelle Sit, Mimi Yao, Mitali Chansarkar, Murong He, Myung-hee (Rachel) Lee, Nandita Nayyar, Nathan Manohar, Noor Al-Alusi, Parul Pubbi, Paul Ho, Peter Khaw, Praneet Mylavarapu, Rebecca Kuan,

Rebecca Su, Rekha Narasimhan, Ruochen Huang, Sara Shu, Sarah (Hye-In) Lee, Sarah Bhattacharjee, Sarah Hsu, Sarah Kwan, Sarah Watanaskul, Selena Chen, Serin You, Shannon Lee, Sharad Vikram, Sharon Peng, Siddhartho Bhattacharya, Steven Shao, Sumana Mahata, Summer Bias, Tavia Sin, Tenaya Kothari, Tiffany Sin, Tyler Simowitz, Yuri Bae.

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Michelle Oberman, Sarah Kuan, Mary Ho, Sara Shu, Hyeimin (Lucy) Ahn, Apoorva Mylavarapu, Sarah Bhattacharjee, Selena Chen, Choohyun (Kristine) Paik, Claire Chen, Cassie Sun, Lucy Ahn, Tavia Sin, Ling Jing, Rama Gosula, Megan Chang, Crystal Li, Amber Seong, Wendy (Wenyi) Zhang, Jennifer Kim, Summer Bias, Sikyung (Stacy) Lee, Hanna Lee, Serin You, Catherine Li, Angela Wu, Sarah Gustafson.

Many thanks to the Scientist Advisory Board, an international team of experts that advises the editors of Falconium and reviews articles before publication. Karen B. Helle, M.D., Amiya Sinha-Hikim, Ph.D., Bruno Tota, M.D.,Dhananjay Pal, Ph.D., Gautam Narayan Sarkar; Indrani Sinha-Hikim, Ph.D., Maple Fang, M.D., Reiner Fischer-Colbrie, Ph.D., Ricardo Borges, Ph.D., Rudolph Kirchmair, M.D. Sagartirtha Sarkar, Ph.D., Saswati Hazra, Sunder Mudaliar, M.D., Sushil K. Mahata, Ph.D., Tanya Das, Ph.D.,

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